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Willams, Sharapova Advance at Australian Open


U.S. tennis star Serena Williams has easily defeated Amelie Mauresmo of France in a quarterfinal match, setting up a semi-final showdown with Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova of Russia at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Williams upset the second seeded Mauresmo Tuesday in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. The two women played in sweltering summer heat, with temperatures topping 35 degrees (Celsius) on the court.

Williams, seeded seventh, next takes on fourth seed Sharapova in the semi-finals on Thursday. Serena lost two big matches to the Russian teenager last year, including the championship final at Wimbledon.

Sharapova advanced Tuesday after defeating fellow Russian, U.S. Open champion and fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in a grueling three set match, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 that lasted more than two hours.

Later Tuesday, American Andre Agassi challenges world number one and top seed Roger Federer of Switzerland in a men's quarterfinal match that is expected to have the feel of a Grand Slam final.

The 34-year-old Agassi is looking to knock off defending champion Federer on his way to winning a fifth Australian Open title. Federer has been virtually unstoppable since winning Wimbledon in 2003. Since then, the 23-year-old Swiss has won four Grand Slam titles.

In other upcoming quarterfinal action Tuesday, fourth-seeded Marat Safin of Russia plays number-20 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia.

The round of eight continues Wednesday, as second-seeded American Andy Roddick faces number 26 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia takes on number-nine David Nalbandian of Argentina.

In women's play, top-seeded American Lindsay Davenport goes up against home-country favorite and 10th seed Alicia Molik, while number 12 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland plays 19th seeded Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy.

Some information provided by AP and AFP.

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