Sharapova back into semifinals at French Open
PARIS (AP) — Maria Sharapova returned to the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in more than three years, defeating Andrea Petkovic 6-0, 6-3 Wednesday at the French Open.
The three-time major champion, who can complete a career Grand Slam with a title at Roland Garros, last reached this stage when she won the 2008 Australian Open.
Sharapova had little trouble against Petkovic, a German who lost in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Sharapova won the opening eight games and overcame two breaks to take the second set.
Sharapova will face Li Na of China. The Australian Open finalist defeated fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-2.
Later, five-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal was to play two-time finalist Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals and Andy Murray was to face Juan Ignacio Chela.
Sharapova improved her Grand Slam quarterfinal record to 11-3 by beating Petkovic. All three of her losses came at Roland Garros.
The other time she reached the semifinals in Paris, she lost to runner-up Ana Ivanovic in 2007.
Besides the Australian Open title, the seventh-seeded Russian also won Wimbledon in 2004 and the U.S. Open in 2006. With a title at Roland Garros, Sharapova will become the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam.
On Tuesday, 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer set up a delectable semifinal match against the Novak Djokovic by defeating Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (3).
If he beats Djokovic on Friday, Federer can end the two-time major champion's perfect season and 43-match winning streak.
"It's not the driving force behind this match, to be honest. For me, the plan is trying to get a step further and into the finals of the French Open," said Federer, the 2009 champion at Roland Garros. "At the end of the day, that's, for me, the big picture, and that's why I entered the French Open. It wasn't to stop Novak."
Defending champion Francesca Schiavone and No. 11 Marion Bartoli also reached the semifinals Tuesday.
Federer has not dropped a set in five matches at this year's French Open. But against Djokovic, he'll be facing the man who eliminated him from the past two majors at the semifinal stage.
He'll also be up against a man who is 41-0 in 2011 and is enjoying a 43-match winning streak dating back to Nov. 27, when Federer beat Djokovic at the ATP Finals in London. With one more win, Djokovic can also assure himself of the No. 1 ranking.
"I know he has a lot on the line, which we all know about," Federer said. "I have been there myself before in 2004 when I was going for world No. 1 against (Juan Carlos Ferrero) in Australia in the semis of a Grand Slam, as well. So it's a similar situation."
With a victory over Federer, Djokovic can equal John McEnroe's Open era record of 42 straight wins to start a season. And with three more, he would match Guillermo Vilas' record 46-match winning streak.
"A big question remains: 'How long can you keep it up?'" Federer said. "I said it a couple weeks ago. It's just hard day in and day out to be asked the questions, 'How many more wins can you get?'
"You would just like to, you know, not talk about it. Just go out there and do it over and over again."