MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Maria Sharapova served up a storm to slap down teenage firebrand Belinda Bencic 7-5 7-5 and become the first woman through to the Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday.
The 2008 champion fired 21 aces in her most impressive serving performance of the tournament to keep the rising Swiss at bay in the early match at Rod Laver Arena.
Biding her time before breaking the 18-year-old in the 12th game of each set, Sharapova sealed the tie on the second match point with a sizzling backhand that clipped the baseline, before squealing in delight towards the crowd.
Sharapova will meet the winner of Serena Williams and Margarita Gasparyan.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)