Serena plays down pressure


Serena Williams insists she has nothing to lose in the Australian Open quarter-finals despite her incredible record against Maria Sharapova.

World number one Williams thrashed Margarita Gasparyan 6-2 6-1 on Sunday to set up a rematch of last year's final in Melbourne.

Williams came away the winner 12 months ago to extend her winning streak over Sharapova to 16 matches, before making it 17-straight in last year's semi-finals at Wimbledon.

However, the American 21-time grand slam champion said she was at a stage in her career where the pressure was off.

"I think the person who's winning could definitely feel the pressure because there is a lot of expectations," Williams said.

"The person who is losing, well, I have lost x amount in a row; I don't have anything to lose.

"But in this situation, I don't have anything to lose because I'm just here. Every tournament for me is just a bonus at this point in my career. So it's an interesting place to be at."

Williams believes there is still room for improvement in her game despite taking just 55 minutes to crush Gasparyan.

She was also full of praise for Sharapova, who booked her spot in the last eight with a hard-fought win over Belinda Bencic.

"Every match is new. She always brings in something new and something special. She's very consistent, as well," Williams said.

"She's one player that's always consistently winning and training and working hard and winning matches."