Sharapova to face Henin

New York, September 9 :

Right after Jankovic talked herself out of a chance to upset Belgium’s Justine Henin-Hardenne in the US Open semi-finals on Friday, Sharapova stayed focused and beat No 1 Amelie Mauresmo of France.

And with that, a full day of tennis at Flushing Meadows was set: Roger Federer vs. Nikolay Davydenko and Andy Roddick vs. Mikhail Youzhny in the men’s semi-finals, then Sharapova against Henin-Hardenne at 8 p.m. for the women’s title. The top-seeded Federer will be trying to win his third Slam of the year. The No 7 Davydenko and the unseeded Youzhny hope for an unlikely all-Russian final.

The third-seeded Sharapova beat the Mauresmo 6-0, 4-6, 6-0, playing her way back into a Grand Slam final for the first time since her breakthrough win at Wimbledon in 2004 at age 17. Aiming at her sixth major championship, Henin-Hardenne showed the steady mental and physical approach of a champion while Serbia’s Jankovic melted down, winning the final 10 games for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory.

Mauresmo, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, became the first women’s semi-finalist in this tournament to get blanked in two sets in the Open era, which began in 1968.

Sharapova has lost the last four with Henin-Hardenne — including matchups at the Australian Open this year and the French Open in 2005 — and has won only one set in that span. Since her win at Wimbledon, Sharapova had lost five straight times in Grand Slam semi-finals.

Henin-Hardenne’s bid to reach the final seemed to be in jeopardy. That is, until Jankovic spoke up.

The 19th-seeded Jankovic was a point from taking a 5-2 lead in the second set when got into a dispute with chair umpire Enric Molina. Jankovic faulted, then began yapping after her first serve was called out. “Did you see it?” she asked Molina. After that, she didn’t win another game.