Sharapova books berth in Stuttgart semis


Sun, Apr 28, 2013 - Page 19


Defending champion Maria Sharapova had another tough battle on Friday as she booked her place in the semi-finals of the Stuttgart WTA tournament with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 quarter-final win against former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.

The 26-year-old Sharapova, who is using the claycourt tournament to help prepare for the defense of her French Open title at the end of next month, was again taken to three sets as Ivanovic rallied in the second set.

Having needed three hours to beat Lucie Safarova in Thursday’s second round, the Russian has now played more than five hours of tennis inside 24 hours after needing two hours, 16 minutes to beat Ivanovic.

“It’s good to face different styles of playing from different opponents,” Sharapova said.

“Ana is a bit more aggressive, while Lucie had a bit more variety in her game yesterday,” she said. “I am happy to get through, but I had to push myself.”

“It was a tough battle, it was hard to get my body going again after the last game, but it was good to get another three sets under the belt,” Sharapova said.

After the Russian took the first set, claycourt specialist Ivanovic rallied in the second with plenty of aggressive shots on her forehand.

Sharapova broke Ivanovic twice in the third, in a sequence of three breaks, before her aggressive game finally wore down the 25-year-old Serb, who reached the world No. 1 ranking just after winning the 2008 French Open title.

Sharapova, ranked second in the world, was due to play third-seed Angelique Kerber in yesterday’s semi-final after the German beat Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) earlier.

Qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the US, ranked 104th in the world, made it through to the semi-finals on her first appearance in the main draw after she enjoying a 6-4, 6-2 win over Germany’s Sabine Lisicki.

Having failed to qualify on her last attempt in Stuttgart in 2005, the 28-year-old was due to face Chinese second-seed Li Na for a place in today’s final.

Li enjoyed a 6-3, 7-5 win over fifth-seed Petra Kvitova, but the Chinese faced some nervous moments in the second set after her strong start left her 2-0, then 5-2 up, before her Czech opponent leveled at 5-5.

“It’s never over until it’s game, set and match,” the 31-year-old said. “Sorry if I gave the fans some nervous moments.”



Francesca Schiavone of Italy moved into the semi-finals of the Grand Prix SAR by defeating third-seeded Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 6-4 on Friday.

Schiavone broke for a 4-3 lead in the first set and led 4-1 in the second before Cornet rallied to level at 4-4. However, the Frenchwoman, who saved 16 of 21 break points in the match, then dropped serve in the penultimate game.

Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, will face Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa, who thrashed seventh-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-1, 6-2.

Scheepers won six straight games to take the first set and lead 1-0 in the second against Mladenovic.

Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain also advanced by beating defending champion Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The unseeded Spaniard will meet Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, who edged Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.