Sun, Aug 12, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Sharapova beats Dementieva 6-3, 6-4

AP , CARSON, CALIFORNIA

Maria Sharapova returns a shot to fellow Russian Elena Dementieva during their match at the East West Bank Classic at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Maria Sharapova defeated defending champ Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-4 in the quarter-finals of the East West Bank Classic on Friday, completing a high-caliber semi-final lineup.

Top seeded Sharapova will meet fellow Russian Nadia Petrova in one semi-final, while the other will be an all-Serb matchup between Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic.

It was the first time the top four seeds have made the semi-finals of a WTA Tour Tier I or Tier II event this season.

Sharapova, who lost to Dementieva in the semi-finals of this event last year, broke her compatriot's serve three times in the first set and appeared set to cruise to victory when she led 4-1 in the second.

But Dementieva reeled off three consecutive games to tie the set and in the ninth game a nervy Sharapova held despite two double faults to go up 5-4.

"I wasn't making one first serve," Sharapova said. "She was putting more pressure on my second serves. It's never over until it's over against her. The good thing is, mentally I was able to stay strong and I didn't get too frustrated."

Sharapova needed three match points to clinch the win, breaking Dementieva in the last game.

Jankovic needed three sets to get by Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, and set up the semi against Jankovic.

"I'm playing another Serb. Big deal," Jankovic said. "It's just another girl on the opposite side of the net."

Jankovic, the No. 2 seed, won 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 against Azarenka, the 2005 Australian and US Open junior champion who is on her second year on the tour.

Last year, Jankovic lost to Dementieva in the final.

Ivanovic, the third seed, rallied to beat Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-4, 6-4.

"She played very well from the first point on. She was serving unbelievable and my serve didn't work so well," said Ivanovic, who is playing her first tourney since losing in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Leading 4-1 in the first set, Kirilenko needed treatment for blisters on her right foot.

"I had some time to think about my game when she took a medical timeout," Ivanovic said. "I decided I should be more aggressive. I was trying to move forward a lot and hit heavy spin so I would keep her outside of the court."

Ivanovic recalled playing Jankovic as a child in Belgrade. She said Jankovic, who is three years older, beat her handily, but she was proud to take one game off her.

Jankovic had no such memory.

"She was probably confusing me with some other girl," Jankovic said. "She was actually the better player when we were younger."

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