Williams cruises into Open quarters

World No.1 Serena Williams has brushed aside Russian Margarita Gasparyan to move into the Australian Open quarter-finals in Melbourne.

The defending champion needed less than a hour to roll the world No.58 in a 6-2 6-1 rout at Rod Laver Arena.

Williams next faces Maria Sharapova, the long-time rival she beat to claim her sixth title last year, in a blockbuster quarter-final on Tuesday.

Sharapova earlier showed she wasn’t ready to hand over her status as one of the game’s stars to Swiss teen Belinda Bencic just yet.

The fifth seed edged Bencic to reach the final eight for another eighth time.

Sharapova blasted 21 aces to oust the 18-year-old 12th seed 7-5 7-5 in a scintillating serving display.

In an up and down opening set, the four-times finalist and 2008 champion was broken four times but managed to keep Bencic in check and break her to take the set.

The second set went with serve until Bencic cracked at 5-6, handing last year’s finalist the match.

Sharapova predicted Bencic would be a contender before long.

“These are the players who are going to take our spot but not just yet,” Sharapova said.

“I was really focused because she has a great game and has had a great season.”

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