Maria Sharapova sets up showdown with China's Li Na

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova set up an Australian Open showdown with China's Li Na today as she roared into the semi-finals for the record loss of only nine games.

The world number two swamped her latest victim, fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2 in a quickfire 1hr 6min, continuing her blistering start to the season.

Sharapova was forced to pull out of her warm-up tournament with injury, hitting up with Australian junior boys instead, but she has been remorseless in her rampage to the last four at Melbourne Park.

Her record of losing just nine games in five matches obliterates the 22-year-old tournament record of Monica Seles, who dropped 12 en route to the 1991 semi-finals. Despite the scoreline, the four-time Grand Slam-winner insisted it had been close against Makarova, against whom she has never lost in five matches.

"No matter what our record is, we always have close matches," she said. "It was quite close in the beginning today, we exchanged breaks of serves, but I think I ended up being the more aggressive player.

"Today was a matter of staying focused because I know how excited she was to play me." However, Sharapova, 25, will face her sternest test yet against China's Li, who halted the 13-match unbeaten run of Agnieszka Radwanska to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final since she won the 2011 French Open. Li, the world number six, became the first player this year to take a set off off the Polish fourth seed when she edged a tight opener containing seven breaks of serve.

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