April 11, 2008 / 11:44 PM / in 11 years

Tennis-Top seed Sharapova advances to Amelia Island semi-finals

AMELIA ISLAND, Florida, April 11 (Reuters) - Top-seeded Maria Sharapova advanced to the semi-finals of the Amelia Island championships after a hard-earned 6-7 6-3 6-2 victory over Ukraine’s Alona Bondarenko on Friday.

The Australian Open champion will meet former world number one Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals after the American beat Hungary’s Agnes Szavay 6-4 7-6.

It was the second successive day Sharapova has been taken to three sets though she avoided another three-hour marathon only because she needed just 39 minutes to seal the third set after taking more than two hours for the first two.

“I’m fine I guess. I thought I recovered pretty well considering it was a short turn-around,” she told reporters.

“Mentally I was prepared but you never know how you’re going to feel physically.

“I actually surprised myself a little bit, even after losing that first set, I didn’t give up. I was very well aware that the match wasn’t over yet and that I still had many more opportunities and chances.”

Sharapova had a mixed service game, combining 11 aces with eight double faults though her serve was conclusive in the third set when she won 93 percent of her first serve points.

“I started slow with everything, not just the serve,” said Sharapova. “Even though my serve let me down a few times, I think it saved me a lot more than let me down.”

Bondarenko won the first set when she capitalised on a number of unforced errors from the Russian, but the momentum of the match turned in the sixth game of the second set when Sharapova broke Bondarenko’s serve with a succession of forehand winners.

The Ukrainian’s composure evaporated, smashing the court with her racquet several times after the game and she never recovered, winning just three more games in the match.

France’s Alize Cornet beat 13th-seeded compatriot Virginie Razzano 6-4 6-2 in the other quarter-final and will meet the winner of the late match between Amelie Mauresmo and Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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