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Sharapova withdraws with leg strain; Petrova faces Ivanovic in Carson final

8/11/2007 - Tennis

CARSON, Calif. -- Maria Sharapova withdrew 20 minutes before
her semifinal match against Nadia Petrova at the East West Bank
Classic on Saturday night because of a lower left leg strain.

Petrova advanced to Sunday's final against Ana Ivanovic, who
rallied from a 4-1 third-set deficit to beat fellow Serb Jelena
Jankovic 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the other semifinal.

Sharapova, the top seed, was coming off her first title of the
year at last week's Acura Classic near San Diego.

"I can function sitting on my butt and talking, I am fine,"
she said. "But running around on the tennis court, no."

Sharapova said the injury occurred Saturday afternoon on the
practice court.

"I could not lift my foot up on the serve and I could not run
to more than two or three balls," she said. "It is just so weird
how it came on."

She tried various treatments -- deep tissue massage, an ice bath,
acupuncture and taking anti-inflammatories -- in an attempt to play.

"The doctor has seen these things before and was not
optimistic," Sharapova said. "You still try and do everything you
can. Based on my experience, you never know, but I hope it is only
a couple of days."

Sharapova had already withdrawn from next week's tournament in
Toronto.

She went on court and apologized to fans waiting for her match
to start at Home Depot Center.

No. 4 seed Petrova, who was 1-5 against Sharapova in her career,
reached her first final in seven appearances in Carson.

"It's always good to be in the final, but it's always good to
make your way through by playing," she said. "It's quite
disappointing. I had 15 people coming to watch me. They drove all
the way from San Diego."

By reaching the final, Ivanovic will rise to a career-high
ranking of fourth, dislodging Svetlana Kuznetsova, in next week's
WTA Tour rankings.

Ranked fifth this week, Ivanovic will be seeking her second
title of the season. The 19-year-old was runner-up at the French
Open and a semifinalist at Wimbledon.

Jankovic, last year's runner-up, was the only semifinalist with
multiple titles this year, winning four. She led 4-1 in the third
set and had a break point to go up 5-1, but she sent a backhand
wide to give Ivanovic the game.

"I never give up, so I tried to focus on each point and take
time for my serve," Ivanovic said. "I got motivated, the crowd
helped me a lot with that. They were giving me confidence and
fighting spirit."

That helped Ivanovic win three consecutive games to tie the set
at 4-all. The second-seeded Jankovic held for a 5-4 lead and had
two match points in the next game.

"I had some chances, but at the end she made big serves,"
Jankovic said. "I was a little bit tired and didn't move my feet
at all. I was out of gas."

Ivanovic came up with some big shots under pressure -- hitting a
drop volley winner on the first match point and then a forehand
winner into the open court on the second match point for deuce.

Ivanovic hit two forehand winners in a row to tie the set at
5-all.

"I believe she was tired," Ivanovic said. "I was on the edge
of my energy, but I tried not to think much about that."

Jankovic got broken when her forehand sailed long and Ivanovic
served out the 2½-hour match -- winning on her second match point
when Jankovic's backhand went long.

"I felt like I was playing against a guy, the way her serves
were coming at me," Jankovic said. "It's sometimes scary, and
when she starts to scream, I'm like, 'Come on.' She's quite a
powerful, big girl."

Ivanovic, the third seed, was pushed to three sets for the first
time in four matches this week. She improved to 4-1 against
Jankovic, who beat Ivanovic in straight sets in last year's
quarterfinals in Carson.