Sharapova back into Birmingham semifinals

Updated: 11 June 2010 14:20 IST

Maria Sharapova dispatched Kazakh qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Aegon Classic semifinals again on Friday.

Sharapova back into Birmingham semifinals

Birmingham, England : Maria Sharapova dispatched Kazakh qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Aegon Classic semifinals again on Friday.

Sharapova has made the last four in all seven visits to Birmingham, where the Edgbaston Priory Club have made her an honorary life member.

The Russian senses the chance for a third Birmingham grass-court title, especially as her right shoulder was not a problem like it was last year.

"I definitely feel in a better situation this year than last," Sharapova said. "Last year I wasn't sure how my arm was going to hold up, and I was always on the watch-out for that, but I feel much better about it now."

Sharapova next plays Alison Riske, a 19-year-old qualifier from the United States who has never risen higher than 188 in the world but who scored a memorable 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 win over Yanina Wickmayer, the third-seeded player from Belgium.

Sharapova broke Karatantcheva's serve in the opening game, broke again for 4-1 and 5-1, and threatened to accelerate into the distance.

However, Karatantcheva, who reached the French Open quarterfinals five years ago as a 15-year-old, began trading heavy strokes from the baseline and working hard to contain the second-seeded Sharapova's fierce and noisy hitting.

Sharapova also used the opportunity to change the direction of her attack, producing three successful drop shots, and managing to return two balls left-handed under extreme pressure. She faltered only once, when trying to close out the match. Three times she went break point down, before ending it with a solid second serve which elicited a return error.

"It will get tougher from here," Sharapova told the crowd before blowing kisses to all four sides.

Riske, who relinquished a scholarship at Vanderbilt University to turn professional because of impressive form in smaller tournaments last year, was able to ally aggression and a lower error ratio in her defeat of Wickmayer.

Wickmayer, who had to contend with a bleeding lip while dropping serve to concede the second set, double-faulted in the sixth game of the final set to hand Riske the decisive break.

Topics : Tennis Andy Roddick Lukas Dlouhy Rohan Bopanna Leander Paes Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi Maria Sharapova
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