Dementieva and Sharapova reach Zurich semis

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:08 IST

Russian Elena Dementieva clinched a place in the last four of the WTA Zurich Challenge after completing a gruelling 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 victory over Ai Sugiyama.

Dementieva and Sharapova reach Zurich semis

Zurich: Russian Elena Dementieva clinched a place in the last four of the WTA Zurich Challenge after completing a gruelling 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 victory over Ai Sugiyama on Friday. She will face Maria Sharapova in an all-Russian semi-final after her compatriot beat Venus Williams 6-3, 6-4 in the day's second quarter-final. In the first quarter-finals on Friday, number three seed Dementieva - the highest remaining seed in the draw - broke Sugiyama to love in the second game of the match. Sugiyama quickly broke back for 2-1, but that would be the only game that she would win in a one-sided first set. Dementieva, who was a beaten finalist at both the French and US Open this year, forced two further breaks of Sugiyama's serve and closed out the set 6-1. The Russian continued her dominance at the start of the second with a fourth break of her opponent's serve to go ahead 1-0. But number nine seed Sugiyama forced her way back into the match, attacking the net and hitting measured volleys to break back immediately. Two further breaks were traded before Sugiyama clinched the crucial break that saw her take the second set 7-5 to level the match. Previous matches between these two players suggested that Friday's encounter would be a tight affair - they had two wins apiece from four meetings. Dementieva took a 1-0 lead with yet another break at the start of the third set, but Sugiyama pulled straight back once again and both players would have to dig deep as the match approached the two hour mark. Sugiyama gave her all in a battling display, but conceded another break of serve in the seventh game. However, Dementieva somewhat typically failed to maintain her advantage and she was broken while serving for the match at 5-4. Dementieva claimed another break in the next game though and served out the match at the second time of asking, wrapping up a 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 victory in two hours and 12 minutes. Her semi-final opponent would come from Friday's second match - a tantalising first on court meeting between Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. Sharapova's career is in the ascendancy following her triumph at Wimbledon, while Williams is struggling for form and has not beaten a top ten player this year. But number seven seed Williams looked in control in the first game, in which she broke Sharapova to love. The Russian offered a perfect response though and broke back in the next game before taking control of the set. Williams' winners were too few and far between and, although she would display some of her old magic on occasion, there was little the American could do to prevent a second break of her serve in the fifth game. Number four seed Sharapova went on to take the first set 6-3 in 36 minutes. Williams saved two break points in the third game of the second set, fighting back to 40-30, but Dementieva was never likely to let that opportunity slip from her grasp and the 17-year-old took the break for a 2-1 lead. A break back came immediately, but it would turn out to be a case of delaying the inevitable for Williams. Whilst Sharapova looked calm and in control Williams never really got a grip on the match and she suffered a crucial break in the seventh game. Fighting to the last, former world number one Williams forced a break point while attempting to stay in the match, but Sharapova rattled off a succession of fine groundstrokes to complete a 6-3, 6-4 victory. (AP)

Topics : Tennis
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