Sharapova, Bouchard to face off in quarterfinalsMaria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will meet in the Australian Open quarterfinals after advancing with contrasting wins on Sunday.
Second-seeded Sharapova was broken once in the first set before winning the last eight games of her 6-3, 6-0 fourth-round victory over No. 21-seeded Peng Shuai.
Seventh-seeded Bouchard, who reached the semifinals or better at the first three Grand Slam tournaments last year, won nine of the first 10 games against Irina-Camelia Begu, but lost seven of the next nine to be pushed to a third set for the first time in the tournament.
After serving a double-fault on set point to end the second, Bouchard took a short break before returning to complete a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over No. 42-ranked Begu, who had taken out No. 9-seeded Angelique Kerber in the first round.
“I gave myself a good, long hard look in the mirror,’’ Bouchard explained of her brief absence from Rod Laver Arena. “I said, ‘Genie, this is unacceptable.’ I really kind of kicked myself in the butt a little bit.’’
After three straight-sets wins, Bouchard joked that she went three sets for a couple of reasons.
“Clearly I need more practice!’’ she said, then turned to the section of fans known as the Genie Army who support her in Australia. “It’s not horrible playing longer on this court. I just wanted to do that for you guys, and for them to practice more songs.’’
Five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova has a 3-0 career record against Bouchard, including a comeback semifinal win at the French Open last year. She had a rougher road to the quarterfinals in Melbourne Park, though, having to save match points in her second-round win over Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova. Sharapova lost in the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year, when Bouchard reached the semifinals in her tournament debut.
“I feel like something or someone gave me another chance,’’ Sharapova said. “Last year I lost in the fourth round here, getting to the quarters is really special.’’
Sharapova said Bouchard was the most consistent player at the Grand Slams in 2014, and she had to be at her best to beat the 20-year-old Canadian.
“She’s playing really well, confident tennis. So aggressive,’’ Sharapova said. “I have a tough match ahead of me, but I always look forward to that.’’
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal stayed in contention for his second Australian Open title six years after his first with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 fourth-round win Sunday over Kevin Anderson.
The 2009 Australian Open winner turned around the first set - and ultimately the match - in the 11th and 12th games.
Nadal saved five break points, clinching the game with an ace and service winner to go ahead 6-5.