Roger Federer and Serena Williams have both advanced to the semifinals of the Australian Open. This brings Williams a step closer to equaling Steffi Graf's record of 22 Grand Slam titles.
Williams, the women's world No. 1, took less than 90 minutes to brush past her longtime rival Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-1 on Tuesday to enter the top four at the tennis season's first Grand Slam event.
After the match, the 34-year-old American played down the rivalry with her 28-year-old Russian rival, whom she has now beaten in their last 18 contests.
"I'm not sure why it happened. Doesn't matter who I'm playing, I just try to go out there and play the best I can. It's not necessarily anyone in particular," Williams said.
"When I play her, I know automatically I have to step up my game. I think that makes me play better. When I play better, when I'm forced to play better, I don't know, I do well."
Williams, who got out to a sluggish start in the first set, also revealed that she had suffered from what she described as "food poisoning issues" before the match.
The win takes the American one step closer to a 22nd Grand Slam title, which would equal the record set by Germany's Steffi Graf. She is to face fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the semifinals, after she put out Carla Suárez Navarro 6-1, 6-3.
Federer battles past Berdych
On the men's side, world No. 3 Roger Federer moved a step closer to his fourth title at Melbourne and his first Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2012 by battling past sixth seed Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4 in two and a quarter hours.
The 34 -year-old Swiss national said afterwards that he was keen to add an 18th Grand Slam title to his trophy cabinet.
"It would mean a lot to me - no doubt about it," Federer said. "That's part of the reason why I guess I'm still playing. I feel like I'm competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour."
Federer is to faceNovak Djokovic in the semis, after the Serbian world No. 1 beat Japan's Kei Nishikori in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. 6-4.
pfd/ (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)