Venus Williams withdraws due to injury: Maria Sharapova advances to semi-finals of China Open
BEIJING: World number one Maria Sharapova and Maria Kirilenko dominated Asian opponents Friday to set up an all-Russian semi-final between the teenage friends at the $585,000 China Open.
Top seed Sharapova, the last household name still in contention after exits by the American Williams sisters, will meet her friend for the second time in as many months. Sharapova won the only other meeting between the two 18-year-olds in Los Angles in August.
She faced a minor test in the first set against Asagoe, but recovered nicely in the second for a 6-4, 6-1 win over Shinobu Asagoe. Kirilenko ended Chinese hopes as she defeated Sun Tiantian 6-1, 6-3. Sharapova missed out from a 5-3 lead while serving for the opening set, but broke straight back to take it 6-4. The second went smoothly as the Russian rolled into the final four over the Japanese.
The Russian ended the encounter in 66 minutes, breaking on five of 11 chances and striking her fourth ace in the last game as she served it out. “Maria’s a good friend, and it’s always difficult to play someone you know well,” said Sharapova of the Saturday showdown. “She’s an up-and-coming player and it will be a competitive match no matter what. “Maria’s been playing very well this week.”
Sharapova said she got off to a good start against Asagoe. “I had some errors in serving but I was able to overcome them to win the set. In the second I played very aggressively and didn’t give her a chance.”
The loss to Kirilenko was a letdown for Sun, the world number 127 Olympic gold-medal doubles ace who saddled Serena Williams with a second-round defeat Wednesday. Kirilenko’s win was delayed for a few moments as drizzle made the lines unsafe. But a quick application of towels by Beijing ballboys and ballgirls put things right.
The 45th-ranked Russian reached her second semi-final of 2005 as she won playing her first quarter-final since February.
Friday’s knee-injury pullout by Venus Williams landed Marta Domachowska of Poland into her second semi-final of the season, next facing determined German Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who beat Peng Shuai 7-5, 6-1. “It just started last night, this is a new injury,” said Williams, who has played only 12 events this season but along the way won her third Wimbledon title.
“I was able to finish the match but I’m not in a condition to play professional tennis today. I hope to return to Beijing – now I have time to do some sightseeing and shopping.” Groenefeld, based in Florida, was put into the draw when second-seeded Lindsay Davenport withdrew injured. afp