Makarova into second straight Slam semifinal with rout of No. 3 Halep #AusOpen: http://t.co/qMbC63SlBv pic.twitter.com/lUNWg1rwCP
— TENNIS.com (@Tennis) January 27, 2015
Remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Well, the Simona Halep pod made an appearance today in Rod Laver Arena, and who knows what it did with poor Simona? I can't explain why the match outcome didn't surprise me; I just had a feeling, all last night and today, that Ekaterina Makarova was going to come out very loose and Halep was going to be hesitant and nervous.
Makarova beat Halep 6-4, 6-0--and no, I didn't think it was going to be that bad-- though both players had disappointing winner/unforced error rations (Halep's was 31/15, Makarova's was 20/10). The match, which lasted and hour and nine minutes, was a pretty flat affair, and Halep sometimes seemed like she wasn't even in it (shades of a certain embodiment of Li Na). The Romanian star later denied she had put pressure on herself, but said that she felt inexplicable stress.
Makarova definitely needs to clean it up, but she still looked pretty good out there. She has yet to drop a set in Melbourne.
So on to the Big Match, which turned out--surprise, surprise!--not to be that big at all. Maria Sharapova needed only two sets to defeat Genie Bouchard. Sharapova's service game was on, and she had an even (19/18) winner/unforced error stat. Her opponent, however, made 30 unforced errors while hitting 13 winners.
Bouchard got in some impressive shot-making, as she always does, but Sharapova played a cleaner match and was able to control the proceedings with her serve--just like the old days. She won 6-3, 6-2.
The two Russians will play each other in the semifinals. Sharapova won the Australian Open in 2008 and was the runner-up in 2007. Makarova, who has never defeated Sharapova, has now reached her second major semifinal; she was a semifinalist last year at the U.S. Open.