Australian Open - Sharapova continues path of destruction

Maria Sharapova continued her record-breaking progress through the Australian Open with a 6-1 6-0 victory over Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens.

Only France's Mary Pierce, who dropped just four games on her way to the French Open quarter-finals in 1994, has been more ruthless in a Grand Slam.

Sharapova, the champion in Melbourne in 2008, has spent just 249 minutes on court in four matches but said she did not feel any need to step up her practice as a result.

"The work that you put in before the tournament is the most important," Sharapova said. "What you do in the off-season, you're not going to put this work in during the tournaments.

"I actually love coming to tournaments. You practice less and just go and play matches. It's like the best-case scenario."

World number two Sharapova arrived in Melbourne without any match practice after pulling out of two warm-up events because of a sore neck.

Right from the off, the Russian has shown no sign of rustiness but she said there was often no way of telling how well she is going to play.

"The lead-up to the tournament, sometimes if you're playing really good in practice I get a little bit worried," she said.

"But I never do. I'm horrible in practice most of the time.

"(When that happens), I'm like, 'that's a great sign', because I come to the matches and my expectations are quite low.

"But it depends. Every Grand Slam that I've won or done well at, I've always felt different actually. Sometimes I feel like I'm not playing my best tennis in the beginning, but I start playing better.

"And then a couple that I've won, I felt like I was playing great from the beginning and I was able to carry that through the whole tournament."

In the quarter-finals, Sharapova will play another Russian, Ekaterina Makarova, for the second successive year and said she was aware that maintaining her barnstorming run was not going to be simple.

"It's always much easier said than done to keep that focus, especially when you have a (good) first set," she said.

"Maybe in the end of the second your opponent can start going for it a little bit more.

"All of a sudden, especially in women's tennis, things can change really quickly. It's really about sticking to your game-plan, being consistent, but playing your game.

"My next match is against Makarova. I have to do the right things to beat her.

"If I win that, it's moving on to the next one. That's how I go about a tournament, a Grand Slam. Obviously I want to be playing my best tennis towards the end of the second week."

Makarova earlier sprung a major upset at the Australian Open for the second successive year when she completed a 7-5 6-4 victory over fifth seed Angelique Kerber in their fourth-round encounter.

The 19th seed started brightly and survived a wobble to close out the first set before going on to defeat her injury-hampered German opponent, the highest seed so far to lose in the women's draw, in one hour and 32 minutes with an ace.

Makarova advanced to her second consecutive quarter-final at Melbourne Park after matching her run at last year's tournament when she sensationally defeated five-time champion Serena Williams, who was also hindered by injury.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," the 24-year-old Muscovite said in a courtside interview at a sunbathed Rod Laver Arena.

"I really like to play here, everything is so perfect. My team did a really nice job."

Wimbledon semi-finalist Kerber received treatment on and off the court for a back complaint, which she said had affected her for two or three days.

"I was thinking it will be maybe not too bad, but in the first set I was feeling that and it was actually worse and worse," added the 25-year-old, who had felt the most pain during her serve.

After eliminating Williams as a 56th-ranked outsider a year ago, left-hander Makarova crumbled against her compatriot in the following match, winning only five games.

"I think it will be really interesting and I really want to play against her," Makarova said.

"Last year I was so surprised ... and had so many thoughts on my mind. This year, I'm a little bit used to it. I think I'll be ready to play a good game."