News & Media

Webber cheers on Sharapova win

8 January 2015, by AAP

UPDATE 7pm: Fast finishes are nothing new to Mark Webber.

But even the ex-Formula One driver must have been impressed on Thursday with the speed in which friend Maria Sharapova booked a place in the Brisbane International tennis semi-finals.

Webber hardly had time to settle in Sharapova’s supporter box at Pat Rafter Arena as the top seed put herself in the driver’s seat at the Brisbane event with another crushing win.

The five-time grand slam winner powered past Spanish seventh seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-3 in just over an hour.

The world No.2 booked a last-four showdown with Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina who staged a stunning comeback to oust German third seed Angelique Kerber.

Sharapova is in ominous form ahead of the Australian Open, dropping just five games in her two matches to date.

World No.17 Suarez Navarro did not hold a service game in the opening set as Sharapova went on to belt a total of 32 winners.

The Russian is yet to have a tough test ahead of the year’s first grand slam – not that she is complaining.

“When you step out onto the court, you don’t think about making it tougher for yourself,” she said.

“I know how to get ready for grand slams. I’m certainly not thinking that I need that (tough) type of match.

“My goal is to go out there and do the right things.”

Sharapova did appreciate the attendance of Webber who she bonded with at sponsor Porsche’s promotion at last April’s Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

“I’ve been able to catch up here and there,” she said of Webber, now a member of Porsche’s factory Le Mans team.

“Obviously, you follow fellow athletes in different sports.

“The respect level is out there just because of the work and efforts they put in.”

World No.28 Svitolina will look to put the brakes on Sharapova’s stellar Brisbane streak judging by her comeback against world No.9 Kerber.

Down a set and a double break, trailing 3-0 in the second, Svitolina launched a remarkable turnaround, claiming the quarter-final 4-6 7-5 6-3 in just over two hours.

Svitolina is a huge boxing fan and idolises compatriot Wladimir Klitschko, the world heavyweight champion.

And the 20-year-old showed plenty of fight on Thursday, winning four straight games to turn around the second set – and the match.

“I was just trying to fight, and I was hoping for a chance,” said Svitolina, a former junior Wimbledon champion.

“There was chances, so I took it.”

Former Wimbledon and US Open semi-finalist Kerber committed 42 unforced errors in a major worry ahead of the Australian Open.

American Varvara Lepchenko booked a potential semifinal showdown with former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic by ending the giantkilling run of Russian lucky loser Alla Kudryavtseva 7-5 7-5.

> Watch match highlights here (only available outside Australia):