Sharapova dominates Dementieva; Jankovic, Ivanovic advance at Carson
CARSON, Calif. -- Maria Sharapova dictated from the baseline and defeated defending champion Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the East West Bank Classic on Friday night.
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Sharapova, the top seed, avenged last year's straight-set semifinal loss to Dementieva in the tournament.
Her victory set up a semifinal Saturday against fellow Russian Nadia Petrova. Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic will meet in an all-Serbian semifinal.
It was the first time the top four seeds made the semifinals of a WTA Tour Tier I or Tier II event this season.
Sharapova broke Dementieva's serve three times in the first set, which she won on Dementieva's double fault.
Pounding groundstrokes, Sharapova led 4-1 in the second set when Dementieva reeled off three consecutive games to tie the set. Sharapova held despite two double faults to go up 5-4.
"I wasn't making one first serve," Sharapova said. "She was putting more pressure on my second serves. It's never over until it's over against her. The good thing is, mentally I was able to stay strong and I didn't get too frustrated."
Dementieva's forehand volley off Sharapova's drop shot hit the net cord and stayed on her side, setting up Sharapova's first match point. She needed two more to close out the match, winning when Dementieva netted a backhand.
Jankovic had a tougher time, needing three sets to get by Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, an 18-year-old playing her second season on the tour.
"I'm playing another Serb. Big deal," Jankovic said. "It's just another girl on the opposite side of the net."
Jankovic, the No. 2 seed, won 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 to reach the semifinals for the second consecutive year at Home Depot Center. Azarenka was the 2005 Australian and U.S. Open junior champion.
Last year, Jankovic lost to Dementieva in the final.
Ivanovic, the third seed, rallied to beat Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-4, 6-4.
"She played very well from the first point on. She was serving unbelievable and my serve didn't work so well," said Ivanovic, playing her first tournament since losing in the Wimbledon semifinals.
Leading 4-1 in the first set, Kirilenko received treatment for blisters on her right foot.
"I had some time to think about my game when she took a medical timeout," Ivanovic said. "I decided I should be more aggressive. I was trying to move forward a lot and hit heavy spin so I would keep her outside of the court."
Ivanovic recalled first playing Jankovic as a child in their hometown of Belgrade. She said Jankovic, who is three years older, beat her handily, but she was proud to take one game off her.
Jankovic had no such memory.
"She was probably confusing me with some other girl," Jankovic said. "She was actually the better player when we were younger. She already knew how to hit the ball and I was barely passing the ball over the net. I was not good at all at 10 years old."
Petrova defeated Virginie Razzano of France 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-1 to reach the semifinals for the first time in six appearances at the tournament.
Razzano needed a medical timeout in the third set to treat a neck injury.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press