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Ruthless Sharapova cruises into Open quarters

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Maria Sharapova during her rout of Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens.

Maria Sharapova during her rout of Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Russian Maria Sharapova has skipped into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with yet another effortless victory.

The No.2 seed beat Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-0 in just 68 minutes.

Sharapova has now dropped just five games in her four matches at Melbourne Park.

‘‘I’m certainly happy to be playing this well, but it only gets tougher from here,’’ Sharapova said.

‘‘I played a different type of opponent today than in my earlier rounds but I felt I adjusted really well.’’

She now meets compatriot Ekaterina Makarova, who outlasted German star Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-4.

Last year the 24-year-old from Moscow knocked out Serena Williams in the same round - and is looking forward to her match-up with Sharapova.

Kerber, the fifth seed, had won the past three meetings between the pair but struggled on Sunday and was intermittently treated for a back problem.

She said the injury had developed recently and had bothered her during the match.

‘‘I will go after here to the physios and to the doctor, and then I will see what’s going on there,’’ Kerber said.

‘‘I could move, that was fine, but just my serve, when I go back there is a lot of pain there.

‘‘I’ve actually been feeling it for two, three days. I was thinking it will be maybe not too bad, but in the first set I was feeling it and it was actually getting worse and worse,’’ she said.

Makarova took 92 minutes to close out the match, running up three match points in the 10th game and sealing it with an ace at her first opportunity.

Makarova said she wanted to play Sharapova because she improved since her quarter-final appearance here last year.

‘‘I really want to play Maria because I played against her a lot last year and I think it would be really interesting,’’ Makarova said.

‘‘I think I am more prepared this time.

‘‘Last year I was surprised a little bit and had so many thoughts in my mind.’’

The Russian said she found it difficult to overcome Kerber with the German’s speed and angled shots winning her so many points.

Makarova won the first two matches between the two but lost three times to Kerber in 2012.

AAP

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