Author`s name Alex Naumov

Maria Sharapova reaches WTA semis

Russians Maria Sharapova and Anna Chakvetadze won three-set matches on Thursday to reach the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Championships.

Sharapova's 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win over countrywomen Svetlana Kuznetsova also put Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals. Sharapova will play Ivanovic today in the their final Red Group match, with the winner facing top-ranked Justine Henin.

Henin was undefeated in the Yellow Group, routing Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli 6-0, 6-0 in the first victory at love in the WTA season-ending championship's 35-year history.

Chakvetadze, a first-time qualifier in the elite eight-women event, hung on to beat third-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 0-6, 6-3, reports.

Sharapova, who won the prestigious event in 2004 but whose season has been disrupted by injury, recovered from a slow start to produce some top-class tennis against Kuznetsova.

She found her rhythm in the second set and started stretching Kuznetsova around the court with some heavy ground strokes to record breaks in the fifth and seventh games.

In the third set, a Kuznetsova double fault gifted Sharapova three break points in the fifth game which she took at the first opportunity with a brilliant backhand cross-court winner and she broke again in the seventh on her way to a confident victory.

"She hurt me in the first set but I got hold of myself and stayed tough and positive which was really good," said Sharapova.

Chakvetadze edged the first set against Jankovic, but looked to be wilting after losing the second 6-0 and surrendering her serve in the opening game of the decider.

But the Russian recovered to rattle off the next four games to go 4-1 up and then held her nerve to clinch the victory, Reuters reports.

"It was a very tough match, a very nervous match with a lot of ups and downs, said Chakvetadze. "I'm so tired right now I just want to go to sleep."

Source: agencies