Maria Sharapova powered to her second win in two days at the WTA Championships here defeating Belgium’s Kim Clijsters 6-4, 6-4 in a top-quality encounter. The 19-year-old Russian put herself on the cusp of reaching the semifinals with a dominant display against an opponent who had clawed her way back to top form after an injury-ravaged summer.
Sharapova pocketed the first set 6-4 but had to withstand a determined fightback by Clijsters in the second.
Earlier, Svetlana Kuznetsova showed Sharapova she was not the only in-form Russian in town with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Elena Dementieva in the same red group. Number four Kuznetsova had to fight hard in the opening set as her rival, already beaten in straight sets by Sharapova on Tuesday, rebounded after losing the first two games but succumbed in 1hr 50min to a service winner.
It was Dementieva's eighth straight loss at the year-ending event after she lost all her group matches in her two previous appearances. After a titanic opening saw the pair split the first six games Dementieva hit a forehand long to drop serve in the eighth game but Kuznetsova produced a double fault when serving for the set.
Switzerland's Martina Hingis beat Russian Nadia Petrova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 which means France's Amelie Mauresmo is certain to lose her world number one status after 34 weeks in pole position.
Women wowed by model ballboys
THE MALE models working as ball boys at the WTA Championships are drawing qualified praise from the women players.
Maria Sharapova, who personally selected several of the models for the season-ending tournament, said they’re doing a fine job.
“They’re not going to be perfect since they’ve never done anything like this in their career but they did all right,” Sharapova said. Tournament organisers hired male models after accusations of chauvinism. Female models have been used as ball girls at the Madrid Masters men’s tournament since 2004.
Federer to play Nalbandian
SHANGHAI: WORLD NUMBER one Roger Federer will open the Masters Cup against defending champion David Nalbandian on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s final.
The match is a chance for Federer, who lost an epic five-setter to the Argentine last November while injured, to set an early marker in the tournament for which he is favourite. Andy Roddick and world number four Ivan Ljubicic have also been drawn in Red Group and will play Sunday's second singles match.
Rafael Nadal will face James Blake in the first Gold Group match on Monday.