Sharapova, Davenport in Pan Pacific Open semis
Tokyo, February 4:
Top-ranked Lindsay Davenport overpowered Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic in straight sets on Friday to advance to the semi-finals of the Pan Pacific Open. Davenport, the defending champion, needed just 54 minutes at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium en route to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Benesova. In semis, Davenport will meet US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, a 7-6, 7-6 winner over Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.
Wimbledon champion Sharapova defeated fellow Russian Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 6-3 to book her place in the final four of the $1.3 million event. She’ll face Japan’s Shinobu Asagoe, who downed Russia’s Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-4. Second-seeded Sharapova faced little resistance in a lopsided win over sixth-seeded Likhovtseva. Sharapova opened up a 4-1 lead in the second set before Likhovtseva rallied to make it 4-3 when she broke the 17-year-old Russian in the seventh game. Sharapova broke back in the next game and then closed out, finishing with a crosscourt backhand to win in 1 hour, six minutes.
Second-seeded Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic easily advanced to the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach ATP Tour event, beating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-2, 6-1. In quarters, Novak will play seventh-seeded Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark, a 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 winner over American Brian Vahaly. Two-time winner Jan-Michael Gambill beat Peter Wessels of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final against Wesley Moodie of South Africa. Moodie beat fifth-seeded defending champion Ricardo Mello of Brazil 6-4, 6-4.
Paraguay’s Ramon Delgado also advanced, beating China’s Peng Sun 6-7, 6-1, 6-1. Delgardo will face third-seed Xavier Malisse of Belgium. In the other quarter-final, top-seeded Vince Spadea will play fellow American Kevin Kim.
Top-seeded Andrei Pavel of Romania was upset by Tomas Behrend of Germany 7-5, 7-6 in the second round of the indoor Internazionali di Lombardia. Third-seeded Mario Ancic of Croatia, the 2004 runner-up, also lost, to Ukrainian Sergyi Stakhovsky 6-4, 4-6, 7-6. Stakhovsky will meet fifth-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden, who beat Gael Monfils of France 6-3, 6-4. In other actions, No 7 Karol Beck of Slovakia beat Andreas Seppi 7-5, 4-6, 6-3; No 6 Rainer Schuettler of Germany downed Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-4; No 4 Czech Radek Stephanek overcame Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6, 4-6, 7-6; and No 8 Max Mirnyi of Belarus defeated Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 7-6, 7-6.
Russian teenager Evgenia Linetskaya upset top-seeded compatriot Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-2 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the $170,000 WTA Volvo Women’s Open. The 18-year-old Linetskaya, ranked 68th, pounded No 11-ranked Zvonareva with flat, powerful groundstrokes and cruised into her first semi-final in a top tour event. Seventh-seeded Anna Lena Groenefeld of Germany advanced to the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Alyona Bondarenko of Ukraine, while third-seeded Conchita Martinez of Spain beat Shahar Peer of Israel 6-4, 6-3. Also headed for the semi-finals was eighth-seeded Virginia Ruano Pascual, who beat fellow Spaniard Magui Serna 6-2, 6-1.