WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS: Sharapova downs Davenport

Los Angeles, November 11:

Defending champion Maria Sharapova beat Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 on Thursday to join the American world No 1 in the semi-finals of the WTA Tour Championships.

Davenport had already booked her berth in the knock-out phase of the elite season finale with victories in her first two round-robin matches.

Sharapova, 18, playing her second Green Group match, spoiled Davenport’s bid for a perfect round-robin record, and ended the slim hopes of group rivals Patty Schnyder and Nadia Petrova. They had opened the action at Staples Centre, Schnyder posting a 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 victory.

Sharapova, whose last meeting with Davenport was an embarrassing 6-0, 6-0 defeat in the semi-finals at Indian Wells last March, came out strong, earning break in the eighth game of the opening set then serving it out in the next game with an ace and a service winner.

Certainly with Sharapova up a break at 2-1 in the second, Davenport seemed to wake up. Sharapova fought off three break points to stretch her lead to 3-1, but Davenport wouldn’t let go. With Sharapova struggling to keep her focus, Davenport reeled off four games in a row to take the second set.

The Russian, who briefly claimed the world No 1 ranking from Davenport in August despite battling injuries gained the upper hand in the third set with a break in the fifth game.

She mustered her first match point against Davenport’s serve in the ninth game, Davenport fighting her off with a forehand winner. Sharapova’s netted a forehand on her next chance, and double-faulted to give Davenport a break point before closing it out with her 13th ace.