Melbourne - Serena Williams has been
inflicting pain on Maria Sharapova without let-up since 2004, and the world
number one is in no mood to stop now.
The two biggest names in women's sport have
been going head-to-head for most of their careers, playing 20 times.
Sharapova was on top at the start, beating
Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final and the decider of the Tour Championships
later that year.
But that was as good as it got for the
towering Russian, who has since been on the wrong end of the scoreline 17 times
It began with an epic semi-final at the
2005 Australian Open, with the American scraping home in a 2-6, 7-5, 8-6
"I just remember hitting an inside-out
forehand when I was down match point," said Williams, who rated the win
among the best of her career. "I remember hitting it as hard as I could.
"I remember obviously winning, and
that was really great."
Since then she has been unrelenting,
whipping Sharapova in the finals of the Australian Open in 2007 and 2015, and
she is gunning to keep the pressure on when they meet in the last eight at
Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
"I just feel like I'm really confident
in my game right now, not against her or against any other opponent, I'm just
really looking at me right now," she said.
"And I feel like if I can just
continue to play well, then it could be good.
"But every match is new. You know, she
always brings in something new and something special. She's very consistent as
"She knows how to be - one player
that's always consistently winning and training and working hard and winning
While the six-time Australian Open winner
is clearly fancied to make the semi-finals given her record against Sharapova,
who won her sole Australian Open title in 2008, she is not getting ahead of
Asked who had more pressure, a player on a
long winning streak or the opponent who has been losing, Williams replied:
"I think the person who's winning could definitely feel the pressure
because there is a lot of expectations.
"The person who is losing, well, I
have lost X amount in a row; I don't have anything to lose.
"But in this situation, 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. So it's an interesting place to be at."
Despite her dismal record, Sharapova
remains unfazed, insisting she is always looking to improve and that she uses
the losses against the mighty American to examine what she could do better.
"Absolutely. It's not like I think
about what I can do worse!" she said.
"You're always trying to - always
trying to improve. I got myself into the quarter-final of a Grand Slam.
"There is no reason I shouldn't be
looking to improve and to getting my game in a better position than any other
previous round. It's only going to be tougher, especially against Serena."
To finally end her jinx, Sharapova will
have to counter the Williams serve, while ensuring her own is firing -- as it
was against Belinda Bencic in the fourth round, when she sent down a
career-high 21 aces.