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Sharapova keeps hope alive, reaches Zurich semis

ZURICH, Switzerland -- U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova defeated Timea Bacsinszky 6-4, 6-3 on Friday to reach the Zurich Open semifinals and boost her chances of finishing the year atop the world rankings.

Sharapova next will play Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia, who advanced by defeating Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-2.

Third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated fifth-seeded Martina Hingis 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals, rebounding from a poor performance at home last week.

"I'm not really happy with the second set, but I'm happy with the rest," said Kuznetsova, who lost her opening match in Moscow last week. "She played more aggressively and I started to play worse in the second set but I knew the match was still in my hands if I played the last set like I did the first."

Kuznetsova will face Daniela Hantuchova, who received a walkover after top-ranked Amelie Mauresmo withdrew with a shoulder injury.

The second-seeded Sharapova is playing with right foot pain that forced her to pull out of a tournament last week in Moscow. She received a first-round bye in Zurich, while Bacsinszky went through qualifying to reach the main draw.

"I wasn't completely comfortable. There were ups and downs. She's a pretty big hitter and has a good backhand," Sharapova said. "It's better after you play more, move around more. After two matches, I'm in a better groove and feeling better."

Sharapova's slim chances of attaining the year-end No. 1 ranking improved Thursday when Mauresmo withdrew from the tournament.