Saturday, July 30, 2011

Serena aces test against Sharapova

   Look out, women's tennis.
   Serena Williams is returning to form quickly.
   In only her third tournament since an 11-month layoff, the unseeded Williams routed second-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   "I had a good start," Williams said of the matchup between former No. 1 players in the world. “You can’t go in against the fifth-ranked player with your mind everywhere. You have to be serious. It’s a great win for the hardcourt season."
      Added Williams: "I’m a better player this month than I was last month. I’ve put in a lot of work, and I hope it continues to pay off."
    Williams improved to 7-2 against Sharapova with six straight victories.
    "It certainly wasn’t my night," said Sharapova, who at 17 shocked two-time defending champion Williams to win the 2004 Wimbledon title. "She was serving and hitting so well, and I was extremely late in my reactions. I felt sluggish. It was a bad day, but it’s also a reminder that I need to step up."
   With Sharapova's loss, both of last year's Bank of the West finalists have been eliminated. Top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka fell to qualifier Marina Erakovic of New Zealand on Thursday.
   Erakovic, however, fell to eighth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
   In today's semifinals, third-seeded Marion Bartoli of France will meet Cibulkova at
1 p.m., and Williams will face unseeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany at 7 p.m.
   Bartoli won the Bank of the West in 2009 and reached the final in 2008. Lisicki, 20, recently reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon.
   Kendrick suspended -- Former top-100 player Robert Kendrick, a Fresno native, was suspended for one year by the International Tennis Federation after testing positive for a banned drug at the French Open.
   Kendrick, 31, said the drug came from a capsule he took to fight jet lag.
   Ranked a career-high No. 69 in 2009, Kendrick has fallen to No. 105. He reached the final of the Sacramento Challenger last October and in 2008, and he won the 2007 doubles title with Brian Wilson.
   Wayne Odesnik, the 2007 Sacramento Challenger singles champion, returned to action early this year after a one-year suspension for a doping violation.

Results - Friday, July 29, 2011
Singles - Quarterfinals
Serena Williams (USA) d. (2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 61 63.
(3) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Ayumi Morita (JPN) 61 ret. (right ankle injury).
Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. (5) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 76(4) 26 62.
(8/WC) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (Q) Marina Erakovic (NZL) 61 61.
Doubles - Quarterfinals
(1) Huber/Raymond (USA/USA) d. Fichman/Pelletier (CAN/CAN) 62 64.

Order Of Play - Saturday, July 30, 2011
Stadium (from 13.00hrs)
1. Dominika Cibulkova vs. Marion Bartoli.
2. Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova vs. Azarenka/Kirilenko.
3. Sabine Lisicki vs. Serena Williams (NB 19.00hrs).
4. Huber/Raymond vs. Aoyama/Fujiwara.

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