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Clijsters, Sharapova set up showdown at San Diego

Second-seeded Sharapova turned back tenacious Schnyder to book a top-seed final showdown with Belgian Clijsters.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2006 12:31 IST

Second-seeded Maria Sharapova turned back tenacious Patty Schnyder here Saturday to book a final showdown with top seed Kim Clijsters in this 1.34 million-dollar US Open tuneup.

Sharapova, playing for the first time in three weeks, beat Swiss fifth seed Schnyder 7-5, 6-4. Her reward was a date with Clijsters, who downed seventh-seeded Czech teen Nicole Vaidisova 6-2, 7-6 (7/0).

"I don't think my record against Kim is really good, so I'd definitely like to get a win on her," said Sharapova, who is 0-4 against Clijsters. "We've always had pretty good matches and she's playing good tennis."

Sharapova reached her fourth final of the year, but hasn't won a title since Indian Wells in March.

The world No. 4 reached the final without dropping a set.

"I'm proud that I haven't been playing for a while and I play solid against players that have been having pretty good results the past few weeks," she said. "I just come out and step up to the challenge of what's in front of me."

"Each point, she's 100 percent focused and never gives you a breath," said Schnyder, who was playing in her third straight semi-final. "She hits a lot of winners and is a really complete player."

Sharapova lost just six points on serve in the opening set and got the break she needed in the 11th game.

The going got a bit tougher in the second. Sharapova opened the set with a break, but had to work her way through a 15-minute second game that featured nine deuces and five break points before she finally held for 2-0.

After taking a 5-1 lead, Sharapova failed on her first chance to serve it out. Schnyder narrowed the gap to 5-4 before Sharapova finally sealed the victory after 1hr 38min when the Swiss sailed a backhand wide.

"I served smart, mixed it up well and didn't try to go for too much," Sharapova said. Against Patty, you need to be patient, she wants you to go for winners.

"When I got my opportuities, I took them."

"Even when I was leading in the second set, Patty was playing tough. I had to stay mentally strong to finally serve it out," Sharapova said.

"I made her run and lot and felt that I had a shot in all of our rallies," said Schnyder, who converted just one of nine break points. "But by the time I broke her, it was too late.

"I had chances in our long game, but everything went her way."

Clijsters, the reigning US Open champion took her US hardcourt winning streak to 24 matches.

Vaidisova, who lost to Clijsters in the semi-finals at Stanford last weekend, reached her fifth semi-final this season but got no further.

However, the 17-year-old will be in the top 10 for the first time when the WTA rankings are released on Monday.

First Published: Aug 06, 2006 12:31 IST