Sharapova advances, Venus beats Pierce

Associated Press

Wimbledon, June 28:

With a little luck at the end, defending champion Maria Sharapova returned to the Wimbledon semi-finals by beating fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 7-6, 6-3 on Tuesday. Also advancing was Amelie Mauresmo, who reached the semi-finals for the third time in four years by beating Anastasia Myskina of Russia 6-3, 6-4. Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport also advanced by beating US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6, 6-3. Davenport will next face third-seeded Amelie Mauresmo. Two-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams advanced to the semi-finals after beating French Open runner-up Mary Pierce 6-0, 7-6. Williams, who won the title at the All England Club in 2000 and ‘01, was making her first appearance in a Grand Slam quarter-final since last year’s French Open. The 14th-ranked Williams will next face defending champion Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals. In the final game Sharapova clipped the net on consecutive points — and won both. The first allowed her to save the only break point she faced.

When Petrova sent a forehand long on the first match point, the second-seeded Sharapova let loose a shriek, then happily stretched her arms skyward as if doing calisthenics. Sharapova, who lost just 17 games in the first four rounds, survived two close sets in a baseline battle with the eighth-seeded Petrova. There were only three break points, and just one converted — by Sharapova for a 2-0 lead in the second set. In the tiebreaker, Sharapova leaped into a forehand and struck a winner to lead 7-6. Another forehand winner on the next point gave her the set. Sharapova extended her grass-court winning streak to 22 matches.

The third-seeded Mauresmo showed the Centre Court crowd how effective her game can be on grass. She played serve-and-volley, chipped and charged on returns and smartly mixed the pace of her shots. Like Sharapova, Mauresmo has yet to lose a set in five rounds. The Frenchwoman hit 13 volley winners and won 30 of 43 points at the net. Shaky nerves have plagued Mauresmo in the past, but she calmly served out the victory at love. When the ninth-seeded Myskina sailed a backhand long on match point, the third seeded Mauresmo leaped with glee and punched the air.