Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Sharapova defeats Srebotnik to reach Zurich Open final

AFP , ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

US Open champion Maria Sharapova overcame a warning for coaching to beat Katarina Srebotnik 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 to reach the final of the Zurich tournament on Saturday.

The Russian second seed will face Daniela Hantuchova in the final after the leggy Slovakian defeated Russian third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-2.

Sharapova received a warning for coaching after dropping serve in the second set, but she responded by taking control of the rallies and winning the final three games, breaking for 4-2 and the match by forcing backhand errors.

Srebotnik provided dogged resistance, and neither player faced a break point until 4-4 in the first set, when the Slovenian played a poor game and surrendered her serve to love with a netted forehand.

But Sharapova failed to capitalize, dropping her own serve to love with a succession of errors, and she then had to fight off a set point at 6-5 with an ace.

Sharapova always looked the more comfortable player in the tiebreak, securing it with her sixth ace, and she then took a 2-0 lead in the second set against a disappointed opponent.

But Srebotnik quickly recovered her composure, and a Sharapova double-fault followed by a backhand error earned her the break back at 3-1 before the Russian imposed her greater range on the semi-final.

Hantuchova took advantage of an underpowered Kuznetsova, the Russian third seed, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the final.

Kuznetsova received treatment to the big toe of her right foot when down 4-2 in the second set, but that failed to divert Hantuchova from her quest to reach her first final since last August.

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