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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Quarters to Host Russian Rivalry

MELBOURNE, Australia -- U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova overwhelmed tenacious compatriot Vera Douchevina 6-4, 6-2 at the Australian Open on Sunday to set up a tantalizing quarterfinal with fellow Russian Maria Sharapova.

Unseeded Douchevina put up a tremendous fight in her first appearance in the fourth round of a Grand Slam but Kuznetsova had too much experience and closed out the match after 68 minutes on Rod Laver Arena center court.

"I was happier today with my game than my last match because I had less unforced errors," said Kuznetsova, who had only made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam once before breaking through to win the U.S. Open.

"I have much confidence. Definitely when I play in a Grand Slam it's not enough for me to pass two or three rounds. I definitely want to go higher and higher."

Kuznetsova's meeting with Wimbledon champion Sharapova, who beat Italy's Silvia Farina Elia 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, guaranteed there would be at least one Russian in the semifinals.

Kuznetsova said there will be no room for sentiment.

The pair have never been the closest of friends and Kuznetsova has often complained that she does not get the same recognition as Sharapova, who left Russia when she was seven to live in Florida.

With the pair due to square off for a place in the semifinals, Kuznetsova hosed down talk of a rift.

"We say hello and we talk but we don't see each other much because it's only in locker rooms," Kuznetsova said.

"She's two years younger. I never met her before we started to play WTA events. We've been going different ways.

"I think she's all right. I think she's talking to everybody. She's a bit different, like each of us, we are all different.

"But we're all fine with her. Nobody does nothing against her. I don't mind as long as we defend the colors of our country."

Kuznetsova has been in the headlines all week after she was wrongly accused of a doping offense but has refused to let it distract her.

She said she was planning to sue the Belgian politician who announced she had failed a doping test but was trying to forget about it during the championships. "I don't even want to think about this," she said.

Three of seven Russian women who made the fourth round are already out.

Seventh-seeded Serena Williams, who won here in 2003 but didn't return last year because of an injured knee, was clearly angry with herself as she dropped a set for the first time this tournament before recovering to beat No. 11 Nadia Petrova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Second-ranked Amelie Mauresmo of France had a 6-2, 6-4 win over Yevgenia Linetskaya in a mistake-prone match with 11 service breaks.

(Reuters, AP)