Sharapova not fazed by streaker, Dementieva

Even a streaker couldn't faze Maria Sharapova, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the third straight year. Keith Hawkins explains.

Updated: July 6, 2006, 4:39 AM ET
By Keith Hawkins | ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- Elena Dementieva was playing on Centre Court for the second time in her career, not having any more success than she did in her first appearance -- a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Serena Williams in 2003.

On Tuesday, the eighth-seeded Russian lost the first set to No. 4 Maria Sharapova, had been broken four times and was down 0-3 in the second set when she was finally able to crack a little smile. A male fan wearing only a pair of shoes and socks ran onto the court and did a little dance before security covered him with a red blanket and led him off.

Maria Sharapova
Clive Brunskill/Getty IMagesSharapova will face Amelie Mauresmo in the semifinals. Both players have reached the final four at Wimbledon three straight years.

After the delay, Sharapova served to go up 4-0 and went on to a 6-1, 6-4 win and advanced to her third straight Wimbledon semifinal, where she will meet No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo.

This marks the 10th straight Grand Slam event in which a Russian woman will play in the semis, dating back to the 2004 French Open.

"Not really, no," said Sharapova when asked if she was put off by the streaker. "It was real bizarre. Even more bizarre that it took 10 seconds for security to come out."

On Monday, both Russians won fourth-round matches, but in very different ways. After losing her first set of the tournament, Sharapova needed a bathroom break to halt Flavia Pennetta's momentum and beat the Italian in three sets, while Dementieva won the last 10 games and easily disposed of American Shenay Perry.

But on Tuesday, it was Sharapova who was the sharper player from the start. She saved a break point in the first game then broke Dementieva's serve in the second en route to winning the first set in 27 minutes. Dementieva -- now 1-5 against Sharapova in her career -- had four double faults in the first set.

"I really think she was playing great today, especially in the first set, she put a lot of pressure on me," said Dementieva, who suffered the first Grand Slam quarterfinal loss of her career, now 4-1. "I don't think I was playing bad. I think it was a good match, but she was playing very solid, very deep … she was very focused today from the first point."

"I had a real test against Flavia," Sharapova said of her win on Monday. "I felt like after that match, felt like wasn't my best day at the office. I was just looking forward to the next match to see how I could recoup, recover two days in a row. I knew that it was gonna be an even tougher match and I was just ready for it."

Russia sent 15 women to Wimbledon this year -- the most from any one country -- and Sharapova is the last one standing. However, of the four semifinalists, the 19-year-old is the only one who can say she's won Wimbledon.

Her next opponent is top-seed Amelie Mauresmo who, like Sharapova, has been to the semifinals here each of the last three years. But, unlike Sharapova, that's as far as Mauresmo has ever advanced.

"Amelie is No. 1 in the world," said Sharapova, who is 0-2 in her career against her. "She's playing great tennis.

"I love the challenge of going out there and competing against the best in the world."

"Today she was playing very solid," Dementieva said of her compatriot. "She really improve her game comparing yesterday match.

"And if she's [going to] continue to play like that, yeah, I think she has a chance to win this title again."

Keith Hawkins is the Tennis Editor for ESPN.com.