Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Sharapova to face local favorite in the last eight

AGENCIES , TOKYO

Ai Sugiyama of Japan returns the ball during her second round match against Maria Kirilenko of Russia in the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

World No.1 Maria Sharapova responded to a scolding from her coach to beat Italy's Francesca Schiavone 7-5, 2-6, 6-1 and reach the quarter-finals of the Pan Pacific Open yesterday.

The 19-year-old Russian twice fought back from a break down to take the opening set but suffered a total meltdown in the second, earning her a sharp ticking off from coach Michael Joyce.

With on-court coaching allowed in Tokyo, Joyce did not mince his words when he sat next to a sulking Sharapova at the change of ends. "Find a way to win!" he snapped at her.

Still scowling, Sharapova hit back with steely resolve, storming through the deciding set to book her place in the last eight of the US$1.3 million tournament.

Sharapova, beaten by Serena Williams in the Australian Open final at the weekend, now faces Japan's Ai Sugiyama.

Local favorite Sugiyama, making her 15th successive Pan Pacific appearance, advanced after beating Russia's Maria Kirilenko 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Defending champion Elena Dementieva breezed past fellow Russian Elena Likhovtseva facing down a late challenge from her 58th-ranked opponent to win 6-4, 7-5.

"I think it's going to be very difficult to defend my title this time, but I'll try to play my best. I'm really enjoying playing here in Tokyo, it's great to be back as the defending champion," said the 25-year-old.

Dementieva will play Roberta Vinci in the quarter-finals following the Italian's 6-3, 6-0 victory over Frenchwoman Severine Bremond.

Serbian fourth seed Jelena Jankovic, who began the year by winning her second WTA Tour title in Auckland, also advanced in style by overpowering China's Zheng Jie 6-4, 6-0.

Fifth seed Ana Ivanovic faces her fellow Serb in the last eight after beating Italy's Mara Santangelo 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Australia's Samantha Stosur completed a miserable day for China with a 6-2, 6-4 upset victory over sixth seed Li Na. Stosur next plays former world number one Martina Hingis.

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