Federer cruises into Hamburg final

Hamburg, May 17:

Top-ranked defending champion Roger Federer overwhelmed Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday to reach the final of the Hamburg Masters.

Playing under a closed canvas roof on a rainy day, Federer could have made the score even more one-sided had he used more than one of his eight break points in the first set. Federer has not dropped a set on his way to the final and has yet to play a seeded player. His opponent will be either Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic.

The tournament is a major warmup for the French Open later this month, the only Grand Slam title that Federer has yet to win. He has won in Hamburg four times. Federer has won only one title this year, at a relatively small clay-court tournament last month in Estoril, Portugal.

Italian Open:

ROME: Maria Sharapova pulled out of Saturday’s semi-final match at the Italian Open with a left calf strain. The second-seeded Russian was slated to play defending champion Jelena Jankovic. Sharapova said she first felt the injury in the second set of her 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2 quarter-final win Friday over Patty Schnyder, a match that ended near midnight.

“Last night, I had 2 1/2 to 3 hours of treatment and it felt good, but when I woke up this morning it was really sore. I took a little jog and it didn’t go well,” Sharapova said. “It was really uncomfortable. “I’m sorry for my fans. I hope to make it up to them soon.”

In Sunday’s final, Jankovic will meet either sixth-seeded Anna Chakvetadze or French qualifier Alize Cornet.

Sharapova will still take over the No 1 spot in the rankings on Monday due to Justine Henin’s retirement. She said the injury would not affect her preparations for the French Open, which begins next weekend.

Withdrawals have been a common theme at the Foro Italico this year.

Both semi-finals at the Rome Masters last week ended early due to players quitting, setting the tournament record with five retirements in all. On Friday, Serena Williams withdrew in the quarter-finals with a back problem.