Maria Sharapova is into her fourth Australian Open final, after dispatching with Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets on Thursday.
Maria Sharapova's knack of beating her fellow Russians continued on Thursday, as she downed Ekaterina Makarova to reach the Australian Open final.
Second seed Sharapova dismissed compatriot Makarova 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 27 minutes on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday - her sixth straight victory over the 10th seed.
Sharapova will play in her fourth Melbourne Park final on Saturday, and has the chance to add to her lone Daphne Akhurst Trophy she claimed in 2008.
She has won 23 of her past 24 matches against Russians since October 2010, three of those wins coming against Makarova in Melbourne.
There was tension abounds early - Sharapova's players' box were on their feet after a regulation point won in the first game, and Sharapova had racked up five 'come on' celebrations before five games were completed.
Granted, it took 10 minutes for Sharapova to register a hold of serve for 1-0, as Makarova made a nuisance of herself early.
Makarova's first service game lasted seven minutes - Sharapova edged it to claim the break lead, with the five-time major winner's ground strokes packing much more punch than her opponent's.
Free points were hard to come by for Makarova but she served her way out of three break points in the fourth game - and also produced her first successful HawkEye challenge of the tournament - to hold for 1-3.
Sharapova was holding serve with consummate ease and had a point for a double-break, 5-1 lead - only for Makarova to save it with a convincing smash.
A Sharapova double fault handed Makarova two chances to break back in the seventh game, and the left-hander converted on the second of those to get back on serve.
A powerful display in the eighth game - Sharapova reeled off four straight winners to break - saw the 2008 champion regain the ascendancy, and she served out the first set in 48 minutes.
Sharapova hit 15 winners to Makarova's five in the first set, exposing the latter's absence of a distinct weapon.
The second set began like the first - Sharapova shot out to a 3-0 lead, this time getting the double break.
Makarova was the tournament leader in percentage of games held on serve coming into the semi-finals - 86 - but Sharapova broke in four of Makarova's first six service attempts.
Some typical serving woes would give Sharapova some nervous moments.
Serving at 4-1, Sharapova hit her sixth and seventh double faults for the match to give Makarova break-point chances.
But as quick as she dug the hole, Sharapova scurried out of it to chalk up her third convincing victory over Makarova at the year's first major.