Sharapova downs Venus to enter Nasdaq final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Maria Sharapova clinched a place in the final of the NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida on Thursday following her 6-4, 6-3 win over Venus Williams.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:50 IST
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Key Biscayne, Florida:

Maria Sharapova clinched a place in the final of the NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida on Thursday following her 6-4, 6-3 win over Venus Williams. In the men's draw, top seed Roger Federer continued his excellent form with a 6-4, 6-2 win over quarter-final opponent Tim Henman. The NASDAQ-100 Open women's semi-finals got underway at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne on Thursday. The contest for the first place in Saturday's final was between Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams. There was very little between the two players in a hard fought first set. Williams looked to make her power count, but 17-year-old Sharapova was clearly on her game, even if father Yuri appeared to be less than impressed in the stands. His Wimbledon champion daughter would gain the upper hand though as Williams began to make some errors while serving at 5-4 down. The number eight seed would be punished for her wayward strokes as Russian Sharapova clinched the break to take the first set 6-4. An early break of the Williams serve saw Sharapova move into a 2-0 lead at the start of the second set. The Siberian Siren would carry that advantage into the ninth game, where she looked to serve out the win. Williams clung on to her slim hopes of reaching the final though and the American claimed her first breakpoints of the match. But Sharapova clawed her way back into the game and completed a 6-4, 6-3 victory in an hour and 20 minutes. The number two seed will meet either top seed Amelie Mauresmo or the resurgent Kim Clijsters in the final, where she will be looking to lift her third title of 2005. Federer overcomes Henman The men's quarter-finals resumed on Thursday with Roger Federer and Tim Henman looking to join Spaniards David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal in the last four. Number four seed Henman looked to put Federer on the back foot with his attacking play as his parents and wife Lucy watched from the stands. However, following below-par performances in the third and fourth rounds, Federer soon found his best form and the world number one picked up a crucial break of serve in the fifth game. Henman looked to level matters in the eight game and moved to within a break point of 4-4, but Federer saved it with an excellent second serve before taking the game. The tournament top seed then closed out the set in style, serving an ace to wrap it up 6-4. Henman had vowed to throw caution to the wind in an effort to inflict what would have been Federer's second defeat of the year, but the Englishman was given very few chances to take a foot hold in the match. Federer picked up two breaks of the number six seed's serve in the second set to complete a 6-4, 6-2 win in just an hour and 13 minutes and the Swiss star knows that he is hitting form at just the right time. American Andre Agassi will face compatriot Taylor Dent later on Thursday for the final place in the last four. (AP)

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