Sharapova given stern test
Maria Sharapova said she received the perfect warm-up for the Australian Open after winning through to the quarter-finals of the Shenzhen Open.
She was pushed all the way by American Alison Riske, recovering from a set and a break down to win in three and she said that it was good match practice as the first Grand Slam of 2018 is now just days away.
She said on court after the win: "I'm glad I got this kind of match. Although I would've wanted a quick and easy victory, these are the kind of matches that you need, especially with such a short preparation going into the Australian Open in terms of match play.
These are the kind of matches that you need, especially with such a short preparation going into the Australian Open.Maria Sharapova
"I'm just glad that I came back, she played a really great match and as I said to her at the net, I thought it was a great quality match. In the end, I won it so I have another opportunity to keep going."
Riske, runner-up at the event in the last two years running, was dominant in the first set but Sharapova grew into the game, serving 11 aces and saving seven of 10 break points to win through.
She now faces Zarina Diyas from Kazakhstan in the last eight. Top seed is Simona Halep who is still in the tournament, facing Duan Yingying for a place in the last eight.
There are WTA events in Hobart and Sydney next week before the Australian Open starts on 15th January. Sharapova, who won in Melbourne back in 2008, is 10/1 to win again this year.
Defending champion Serena Williams, hoping to play after returning from maternal leave is at 1212/1 with world number one Halep priced at 7/1.
Sharapova is 11/8 to win the Shenzhen Open.
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