Sharapova faces Hingis in semis

Tokyo, February 3:

Top-seeded Maria Sharapova defeated Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-1, 6-4 on Friday to set up a semifinal showdown with Martina Hingis at the Pan Pacific Open.

Defending champion Sharapova relied on a strong serve and solid groundstrokes to complete a convincing win over Stosur at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Gymnasium.

Former world No 1 Hingis, who entered the tournament as a wild card, faced little

resistance from Maria Kirilenko, downing the Russian 6-2, 6-1.

In other quarter-final matches, second-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia came from one-set down to defeat fifth-seeded Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 and Anastasia Myskina was a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 winner over fellow Russian Elena Likhovtseva.

Hingis, who retired three years ago because of foot, heal and ankle injuries, is a four-time winner here in Tokyo. She last played in the tournament in 2002.

Zagreb Indoors

ZAGREB: Top-seeded Ivan Ljubicic defeated Kenneth Carlsen 7-6 (5), 6-4 and was the only seed to survive to the quarter-finals at the Zagreb Indoors. The four other seeds in action — No 4 Radek Stepanek, No 5 Mario Ancic, No 6 Jarkko Nieminen and No 8 Feliciano Lopez — were eliminated.

The pressure is on fifth-ranked Ljubicic to deliver the title in front of his home crowd, especially after he led Croatia to its first Davis Cup title in December. He will face Mikhail Youzhny in the quarters after the Russian rallied to oust Nieminen 2-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (0).

Ancic was ousted by Croatian Davis Cup teammate Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4), and Karlovic moved on to meet Austrian qualifier Stefan Koubek. Novak Djokovic and qualifier Ilia Bozoljac earned their first ever ATP quarter-final berths, and became the first Serbs to reach the last eight at the same tournament. They will play each other on Friday.

Djokovic ousted Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, and Bozoljac upset Lopez 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Later, Andreas Seppi of Italy beat Croatian wild card Marin Cilic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, and will play Tim Henman next.

Delray Int’l

DELRAY BEACH: Fourth-seeded Tommy Haas of Germany beat Andrei Pavel of Romania 6-7 (1-7), 6-1, 7-5 to move into the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Championships.

The 30th-ranked Haas will take on seventh-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg. In the other quarter-finals, top-seeded Andre Agassi will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain, third-seeded Xavier Malisse of Belgium will play sixth-seeded Florian Mayer of Germany, and eighth-seeded Vince Spadea of the United States will take on Lee Hyung-taik of South Korea.

The win over Pavel provided Haas with his 330th career victory. Haas has won eight of 10 matches this season. In the other matches, Muller of Luxembourg beat American Jeff Salzenstein 6-3, 6-4; Lee beat Germany’s Simon Greul 2-6, 6-3, 6-4; and Spadea scored a quick 6-4, 6-1 win over Robert Kendrick.