CARSON, Calif. -- Maria Sharapova dictated from the baseline
and defeated defending champion Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-4 in the
quarterfinals of the East West Bank Classic on Friday night.
Sharapova, the top seed, avenged last year's straight-set
semifinal loss to Dementieva in the tournament.
Her victory set up a semifinal Saturday against fellow Russian
Nadia Petrova. Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic will meet in an
It was the first time the top four seeds made the semifinals of
a WTA Tour Tier I or Tier II event this season.
Sharapova broke Dementieva's serve three times in the first set,
which she won on Dementieva's double fault.
Pounding groundstrokes, Sharapova led 4-1 in the second set when
Dementieva reeled off three consecutive games to tie the set.
Sharapova held despite two double faults to go up 5-4.
"I wasn't making one first serve," Sharapova said. "She was
putting more pressure on my second serves. It's never over until
it's over against her. The good thing is, mentally I was able to
stay strong and I didn't get too frustrated."
Dementieva's forehand volley off Sharapova's drop shot hit the
net cord and stayed on her side, setting up Sharapova's first match
point. She needed two more to close out the match, winning when
Dementieva netted a backhand.
Jankovic had a tougher time, needing three sets to get by
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, an 18-year-old playing her second
season on the tour.
"I'm playing another Serb. Big deal," Jankovic said. "It's
just another girl on the opposite side of the net."
Jankovic, the No. 2 seed, won 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 to reach the
semifinals for the second consecutive year at Home Depot Center.
Azarenka was the 2005 Australian and U.S. Open junior champion.
Last year, Jankovic lost to Dementieva in the final.
Ivanovic, the third seed, rallied to beat Maria Kirilenko of
Russia 6-4, 6-4.
"She played very well from the first point on. She was serving
unbelievable and my serve didn't work so well," said Ivanovic,
playing her first tournament since losing in the Wimbledon
Leading 4-1 in the first set, Kirilenko received treatment for
blisters on her right foot.
"I had some time to think about my game when she took a medical
timeout," Ivanovic said. "I decided I should be more aggressive.
I was trying to move forward a lot and hit heavy spin so I would
keep her outside of the court."
Ivanovic recalled first playing Jankovic as a child in their
hometown of Belgrade. She said Jankovic, who is three years older,
beat her handily, but she was proud to take one game off her.
Jankovic had no such memory.
"She was probably confusing me with some other girl," Jankovic
said. "She was actually the better player when we were younger.
She already knew how to hit the ball and I was barely passing the
ball over the net. I was not good at all at 10 years old."
Petrova defeated Virginie Razzano of France 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-1 to
reach the semifinals for the first time in six appearances at the
Razzano needed a medical timeout in the third set to treat a