SERENA WILLIAMS has beaten Maria Sharapova for the 18th time in a row to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.
It has been 12 years since Serena lost to the Russian, and the world number one moves on to face fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the last four.
The 34-year-old, who was named sportsperson of the year in December, called for a brief visit from the doctor at the changeover, but powered on stronger than ever in the second set, making it 12 games out of 15 as she sealed victory after one hour and 32 minutes.
“It was super intense,” Serena said after the game. “[Maria is] an incredibly intense and focused player who was world number one.
“When you’re playing someone so great you have to come out with a lot of fire and intensity.
“I’ve been playing this whole week aggressive and I don’t think I started out playing that way. At the start of the second set I wanted to play the way I have been doing to get to the quarter-finals.”
Maria said of her opponent: “It’s motivating because she’s at a different level. She makes you go back to the drawing board, not just for me, but for many other players.
“She makes you work. That’s inspiring.”