Serena Williams remains unbeaten in 27 matches
Top seed Serena Williams and defending champion Maria Sharapova remained on course for a heavyweight Madrid Open final showdown with contrasting victories in the last eight of the clay event on Thursday.
Williams, who triumphed in the Spanish capital in 2012 and 2013, when she beat Sharapova in the final, swept past Spain’s Carla Suárez Navarro 6-1 6-3. Sharapova had to recover from dropping the second set and going a break down in the third to beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-1 3-6 6-3.
Suárez Navarro, who had never beaten the American world NO1 in five previous meetings, was powerless to prevent a fired-up Williams securing a last-four clash against the Czech fourth seed Petra Kvitova, or the unseeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, who play their quarter-final later on Thursday.
Williams, who saved three match points in Wednesday’s victory over Victoria Azarenka, is looking to hone her clay-court game before making a bid for a third French Open crown in Paris starting at the end of this month.
Wozniacki, a Madrid finalist in 2009, had her service broken five times by Sharapova, who is chasing a 35th career title. Sharapova called on her coach for advice after losing her serve at the start of the third set and said it had been a turning point.
“I had a good start but my level obviously dropped and I became much more inconsistent and passive,” she said. “So I think that a little bit of a switch [helped] and just [being] a little bit more aggressive and going a little bit for my shots, moving forward,” she added. “It was more of a mental change as well. Just looking for the next shot and creating a few extra steps in my footwork.“
Sharapova will return to No2 in the world if she reaches the final. Her semi-final opponent will be the winner of Thursday’s match between Lucie Safarova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.