Sharapova beats retreat but Pierce flies the flag for France

Maria Sharapova will check in at the Priory next week after her beating by Justine Henin-Hardenne, 6-4, 6-2, in the French Open women's singles quarter-finals here yesterday. Edgbaston Priory, that is, not the clinic for ailing celebrities.

Maria Sharapova will check in at the Priory next week after her beating by Justine Henin-Hardenne, 6-4, 6-2, in the French Open women's singles quarter-finals here yesterday. Edgbaston Priory, that is, not the clinic for ailing celebrities.

"I'll do some retail therapy in Paris and then go to Birmingham," Sharapova confirmed. Her hopes of adding the French title to her portfolio crumbled against Henin-Hardenne, on a day when the diminutive Belgian was close to the form that won her the championship in 2003.

The defeat means that Sharapova will not be going to Wimbledon as the world No 1 as well as the defending champion. Lindsay Davenport stays on top of the rankings despite losing to Mary Pierce, of France, in their quarter-final, 6-3, 6-2.

Pierce now plays Elena Likhovtseva, of Russia, who defeated the 15-year-old Bulgarian Sesil Karatantcheva, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Henin-Hardenne's semi-final will be against Nadia Petrova, the Russian seventh seed, who beat the Serbian Ana Ivanovic, 6-2, 6-2.

Henin-Hardenne has fought back to prominence after being out of the game for six months with a virus and then a knee injury. Yesterday she was irresistible.

"It's always going to be very hard for Maria on clay, because it's not what she likes to play on the most," Henin-Hardenne said.

Rafael Nadal will mark his 19th birthday on Friday in the men's singles semi-finals at his first attempt. And his opponent will be Roger Federer, the world No 1, who has also advanced to the last four for the first time in his attempt to complete his collection of Grand Slam titles.

"Everybody's been looking forward to this one," Federer said after defeating Victor Hanescu, of Romania, 6-2, 7-6, 6-3. Nadal won his 22nd match in a row, beating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, 7-5, 6-2, 6-0.

Andrew Murray, Britain's US Open junior champion, advanced to the quarter- finals of the boys' singles with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Gianluca Naso, of Italy.

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