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Great shots spell victory



Published: Thu, September 7, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Maria Sharapova beat Tatiana Golovin to draw No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Her shots sparkling as much as her silver sneakers, Maria Sharapova gritted her way to yet another Grand Slam semifinal.

Sharapova defeated 27th-seeded Tatiana Golovin 7-6 (4), 7-6 (0) in a U.S. Open quarterfinal that lasted more than two hours Wednesday night, setting up a showdown with No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo.

"She's the one to beat right now," Sharapova said. "I feel like I have nothing to lose."

Sharapova's victory came in straight sets, but it was anything but easy. She played superb defense for long stretches, even resorting to a left-handed shot to keep a point going.

She was broken in each of her first two service games, and fought off two set points while trailing 6-5 in the opener. Then she overcame a concentration lapse after a trainer attended to Golovin for a big blister on the bottom of her right foot, and recovered again after getting broken while serving for the match at 5-3 in the second.

The first set alone lasted 1:18, more than Mauresmo's entire 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 12 Dinara Safina.

The other semifinal

The other semifinal will be No. 2 Justine Henin-Hardenne against No. 19 Jelena Jankovic.

Lindsay Davenport exited her 16th U.S. Open with a quarterfinal loss to Henin-Hardenne and a quick walk off court. No on-court interview. No glance around the stadium. No moment of soaking it all in. No opportunity for a prolonged "Thank you and goodbye" from the fans of the sort lavished on Andre Agassi.

For Sharapova, what's next is her seventh semifinal appearance in the past 10 Grand Slam tournaments, a streak that dates to her 2004 Wimbledon championship.

She appeared to be in trouble in the first set's 12th game, but one set point was erased when Golovin shanked a return, and the other when a 14-stroke exchange ended with Golovin sailing a backhand long.

Injury timeout

Golovin's injury timeout lasted more than five minutes and came when Sharapova led 3-0 in the tiebreaker. While Golovin's foot was being treated and taped, Sharapova stayed out on the court, hitting some practice serves, then shuffling her feet along the baseline.

When play resumed, Golovin won four of the next five points. But from 4-all, Sharapova took control, aided by a forehand that clipped the net cord and barely crawled over the net for a winner, part of her 21-6 edge in that category in the set.

Now Sharapova wants a second career Grand Slam title; Mauresmo's won that many this year alone, at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Henin-Hardenne was the runner-up at both of those events.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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