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Sharapova ousts Petrova to reach Aus Open semis

Russian fourth seed Maria Sharapova became the first woman through to the Australian Open semi-finals with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 win.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2006 13:36 IST

Russian fourth seed Maria Sharapova became the first woman through to the Australian Open semifinals with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 win over sixth seeded compatriot Nadia Petrova on Tuesday.

She will meet either top seed Lindsay Davenport or eighth seed Justine Henin-Hardenne who play in a night match.

The win takes Sharapova through to the semi-finals of the season-opening major for the second successive year.

It is the third time she has dumped her 23-year-old opponent from a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the 12 months.

The 2004 Wimbledon champion won through in a scrappy affair full of unforced errors and double faults but her presence in the semis represents a remarkable feat for a player who believed she would miss the tournament with a rib injury.

Petrova had talked before the match about emulating her opponent's renowned mental toughness but again failed to produce against Sharapova, who also ousted her in the quarters of both Wimbledon and the French Open last year.

The glamorous 18-year-old made a bad start when Petrova broke her serve in the first game of the match after a Sharapova double fault and two unforced errors.

She broke back in the sixth but her serve continued to misfire and only her dogged court coverage prevented Petrova from capitalising on two more double faults in the seventh.

Petrova took her chances to break Sharapova in the next then was unlucky not to serve out the set as her opponent broke back shortly after the sixth seed's forehand appeared to be incorrectly ruled long.

The pair again exchanged service breaks to take a mistake-riddled first set to a tie break, where Sharapova rallied to save set point before winning 8-6 on Petrova double fault.

Sharapova then went on to assert control of the match, snatching service games from her opponent in the first and third games of the second set.

Petrova managed a single break back but an increasingly confident Sharapova held on as her compatriot's error count rose, sealing victory when Petrova overhit a backhand.

First Published: Jan 24, 2006 13:36 IST