Sharapova advances to Istanbul last four
Russian top seed Maria Sharapova reached the semifinals of the 200,000-dollar WTA Istanbul tournament with a hard-won victory over Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska.
The world number two beat the seventh-seeded Pole 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, but a shoulder injury that had kept her away from the courts since March appeared to still strain her performance, just days before the French Open.
"My shoulder is still aching a little bit. Let's see how I will do tomorrow," she said of Friday's semifinal against France's Aravane Rezai, whom she described as "a young player who has nothing to lose against me."
The die-hard Radwanska, 18, mounted a spirited challenge against Sharapova in the second set, breaking her three times and eventually winning 6-3.
Sharapova came back in the third set but she had to fight hard for each point as Radwanska never let up the pressure.
"My opponent was really very tough," Sharapova said. "There were lots of ups and downs in the game."
Rezai, who ousted fourth-seeded Venus Williams, continued her winning series Thursday, defeating another American player, Meghann Shaughnessy, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.
In the other semifinal Friday, second-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia will face the number five, Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko.
Dementieva struggled in her quarterfinal match against Catalina Castano of Colombia, but eventually prevailed 1-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Bondarenko reached the semis without putting up a fight as her rival, third-seed Patty Schnyder of Switzerland pulled out of the tournament because of a right thigh injury ahead of the match.
"I decided to withdraw from the tournament after the pain in my right thigh muscle increased during the night and continued this morning," Schnyder said.
She said however she still plans to attend the French Open, which starts in Paris on Sunday.