Fri, Jul 29, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Sharapova reaches quarter-finals


Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia returns to Maria Sharapova of Russia in their Bank of the West match at Stanford University in Stanford, California, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Second-seeded Maria Sharapova reached the quarter-finals of the US$721,000 WTA hardcourt tournament in Stanford on Wednesday, setting up a possible showdown with Serena Williams.

Sharapova, ranked No. 5 in the world, defeated Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 to advance as she tries to build on the momentum of a runner-up finish at Wimbledon.

She led a string of seeds into the quarter-finals as third-seeded Marion Bartoli, fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and eighth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova all advanced.

Sharapova fought her way through despite 11 double faults, finally advancing after 2 hours, 12 minutes.

Sharapova admitted she “kind of lost it” in the second set.

“I got away from what I was doing well and she had all the confidence and all the momentum going into the third set,” she said.

Hantuchova built a 2-0 lead in the third set before Sharapova won four games to wrap it up.

“I was frustrated by the fact I wasn’t able to maintain what I was doing into the second set,” Sharapova said. “I was able to break her back and got the energy going again.”

Sharapova fell in the Wimbledon final to Czech Petra Kvitova, but was encouraged that her appearance in the All England Club final was proof that the injury-plagued years that threatened to derail her glittering career are behind her.

“It’s still about improving the little things to get more consistent,” Sharapova said. “I’ve had to make a lot of tough choices in the last year, but I’m going in the right direction and, little by little, those choices are paying off.”

She next faces either Williams or Russian Maria Kirilenko, who were to play yesterday.

Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, is unseeded after an -injury layoff of nearly a year saw her ranking plummet.

Sharapova had said she would welcome a chance to challenge Williams. Despite the American’s unseeded status, Sharapova said she would be a difficult opponent, but then so could Kirilenko.

“I’ve lost to both of them the last time I played them,” Sharapova said. “You can never rest against Serena. She hasn’t played in quite a while, but she’s still a great competitor. At the end of the day, she has 13 Grand Slam titles and I have three. That says a lot.”

France’s Bartoli advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Canadian Rebecca Marino.

Bartoli, who reached the semi--finals at Roland Garros and the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, is trying to reprise her 2009 title run in Stanford as the WTA’s stars gear up for the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year that starts in New York on Aug. 29.

“I love this tournament. It’s a great way for me to start back,” Bartoli said. “I lost to Rebecca last year in Quebec, so it was good for me to take revenge. I really felt like I was moving well. I was hitting the ball well for having three weeks off.”

In the quarter-finals, Bartoli will face either Poland’s Urszula Radwanska or Japan’s Ayumi Morita. Morita opened her campaign with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over former world No. 1 and seventh seed Ana Ivanovic on Tuesday.

Bartoli enjoyed a first-round bye, as did top seeds Victoria Azarenka, Sharapova and fourth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur.

Azarenka and Stosur were to play their second-round matches yesterday. Azarenka and Sharapova are vying to set up a rematch of last year’s final, won by the Belarussian.

In other matches, eighth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia beat American Christina McHale 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, and fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland topped Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.

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