2009 LA Womens Tennis Championships
Carson, CA, USA - August 7, 2009
Editorial courtesy of the LA Womens Tennis Championships
Photography by David Burrows.
Three-time Grand Slam singles winner and 19-time Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles winner Maria Sharapova reached her second WTA Tour semifinal this year with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Poland's Urszula Radwanska during Friday's quarterfinals at the $700,000 2009 LA Women's Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife. Sharapova is two wins away this weekend at The Home Depot Center from capturing her first WTA Tour singles title in 16 months.
Sharapova will play 2008 LA Women's Tennis Championships runner-up Flavia Pennetta, the highest remaining seed (No. 10) and ranked player (No. 14), in Saturday's evening semifinal. Samantha Stosur, a 2009 French Open semifinalist, and unseeded Sorana Cristea, a 19-year-old Romanian, reached their first LA Women's Tennis Championships semifinal with quarterfinal wins on Friday and will play each other in Saturday's afternoon semifinal.
The LA Women's Tennis Championships marks the sixth tournament this year for Sharapova, the only former World No. 1 remaining in the tournament and winner of Wimbledon in 2004, the 2006 U.S. Open and the 2008 Australian Open. She last won in 2008 at Amelia Island and posted a 32-4 singles record in 2008 before a right shoulder injury ended her year. She atoned for her serving difficulties in the second set with effective groundstrokes, which enabled her to break Radwanska's last five service games.
"It was just a matter of regrouping and staying positive. I knew I was doing a good enough job with my return that if I stayed positive, I knew I could win the match," said Sharapova, a Manhattan Beach resident who previously reached the LA Women's Tennis Championships semifinals in 2006 and 2007. "Slowly, but surely, I'm finding my way on the court. A lot of what you lose is that reflex, that hand-eye coordination, and I feel I'm getting it back. After something is taken away from you, any second you get to play the night match is always a lot of fun."
Post-Match Quotes from Maria Sharapova:
"In the first (set), I really just went after my serve and really jumped in the court. In my second set, I really stopped doing that. My arm was kind of lagging behind, instead of going up after each serve. It was kind of like a bad habit I created when I was having problems with the shoulder.
"It was just a matter of regrouping and staying positive. I knew I was doing a good enough job with my return that if I stayed positive, I knew I could win the match. She's someone who has a decent first serve but her second isn't as good. I have the confidence to attack it any time of day. It was just important that I keep going at it no matter how many errors I was making.
"After playing four matches, it's kind of a shock to the system after not playing so long. At least I didn't have to play a third (set).
"I have a lot of friends and family here who are supporting me. That's always a bonus. I think tennis in Southern California is really picking up and there's a lot of interest in it.
"Slowly, but surely, I'm finding my way on the court. A lot of what you lose is that reflex, that hand-eye coordination, and I feel I'm getting it back. Sometimes, it's just a matter of inches. There's a very thin line between winning and losing a tennis match. I just wanted to keep going after it and keep hitting it. After something is taken away from you, any second you get to play the night match is always a lot of fun.
"I think physically that's (winning in two sets) very important. I didn't have to run for a third set. I think that gives me a lot of confidence. I certainly didn't play my best today, but I was still able to beat my opponent.
"Flavia I haven't played in a long time. I'm happy to be in the semis."
Maria Sharapova (RUS) def. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 64 75
Earlier Columns from this Event:
August 5, 2009 LA Womens Tennis Championships Coverage: Sharapova, Azarenka
August 4, 2009 LA Womens Tennis Championships Coverage: Ivanovic, King
August 3, 2009 LA Womens Tennis Championships Coverage: Sharapova, Bondarenko, Shaughnessy, Groth
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