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Williams on guard for clash with Sharapova

Serena Williams is taking nothing for granted against Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open quarter-finals despite her dominant record against the Russian.

Williams has won 17 matches in a row against Sharapova and 18 out of 20 overall, with her last defeat coming 12 years ago.

They have met three times in Melbourne where Williams boasts a perfect record, winning in 2005, 2007 and the final last year. It means the American, who is gunning for a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title, is hot favourite.

Williams booked her spot in the last-eight with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 win over Russian Margarita Gasparyan and she expects a tough test from Sharapova.

"She always brings something new and something special. She's very consistent," Williams said.

"She knows how to be a player that's always consistently winning and training and working hard and winning matches."

The challenge seemingly for Sharapova is to break through her psychological barrier against Williams. The World No.5 has failed even to stretch her opponent in recent contests as 12 of their last 13 match-ups have been settled in straight sets.

"I think the person who's winning could definitely feel the pressure," Williams said.

"But I don't have anything to lose because I'm just here. Every tournament for me is just a bonus at this point in my career."

Sharapova's passage into the quarter-finals was less comfortable as she beat Swiss Belinda Bencic 7-5 7-5. The 2008 champion served 21 aces, the most in her career, and hit 58 winners.

"It's not like I think about what I can do worse (against Williams), you're always trying to improve," Sharapova said.

"It's only going to be tougher, especially against Serena."

Belfast Telegraph