Maria Sharapova advances to semi-finals at the French Open

 

Maria Sharapova is one win away from a first French Open final after
seeing off Kaia Kanepi 6-2 6-3 in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros
today.

The second seed and title favourite is looking to complete her set of grand slam titles and go one better than last year, when she lost to eventual champion Li Na in the last four.

Sharapova had struggled in the wind against Klara Zakopalova in the previous round, dropping her first set of the tournament, and it was breezy and cool again today.

There had been a remarkable 21 breaks of serve in that match, and it looked like the same could happen today when all of the first three games went against serve.

But Sharapova looked much more secure, powering groundstrokes, and after she held for 3-1 she wasted little time racing through the rest of the first set.

Kanepi, who ousted former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the third round, packs plenty of punch herself and she began the second set brilliantly, winning the first two games.

The Estonian had a chance to go 3-0 up but she could not take it, and from there Sharapova turned the screw, winning five successive games.

Kanepi had one last big effort, breaking the Russian to love when she served for the match, but she could not hold her own serve and a mis-hit backhand sealed her fate.

In the last four Sharapova, who will become the new world number one if she makes the final, will play Petra Kvitova in a rematch of the Wimbledon showpiece from last year.

The fourth seed ended Yaroslava Shvedova's hopes of becoming the first qualifier ever to reach the semi-finals at the French Open with a 3-6 6-2 6-4 victory.

The world number 142 began the match very well, much more consistently than Kvitova, who is virtually unstoppable when her groundstrokes are firing but can be erratic.

Shvedova was moving well and in control, but the tide began to turn after the Kazakh had broken in the opening game of the second set.

Kvitova broke back immediately and that seemed to give the Wimbledon champion a renewed sense of belief.

She looked poised to cruise through the decider when she moved 2-0 up but Shvedova was not finished and promptly won four games in a row as Kvitova returned to her error-strewn ways.

It was a real tussle now, and the Czech dug in admirably to pull back on serve, before piling the pressure on her opponent as she served to stay in the match.

Kvitova brought up a match point only to blaze a forehand long, but another soon followed and this time Shvedova hit a backhand wide.

PA

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