|Maria Sharapova 225 w|
CARLSBAD, California (Ticker) - Maria Sharapova made sure Mary Pierce would not defend her title.
The second-seeded Russian banged out a 6-2, 6-3 victory over the rusty and sixth-seeded Frenchwoman on Friday to reach the semifinals of the $1.34 million Acura Classic.
Returning to the tour this week for first time in nearly six months due to a torn tendon her right ankle that she suffered in mid-February, Pierce entered this event as the sixth seed.
The 31-year-old Pierce rolled in the first two rounds, beating overmatched Finn Emma Laine and Austrian Sybille Bammer.
On Friday, Pierce ran into the punishing ground game of Sharapova, who broke serve four times in the 68-minute sweep.
"We haven't played in a while, so it was just a matter of getting a rhythm out there," said Sharapova, who improved to 3-1 all-time against the two-time Grand Slam champion. "I was solid, I was ready for her to come out and play a tough match because we've always had pretty good battles against her."
The victory sends Sharapova into her eighth semifinal of the year in nine tournaments, where she next will meet No. 5 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.
|Patty Schnyder 225 w|
A lefthander, Schnyder moved on with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over error-prone and No. 4 Russian Elena Dementieva.
"Not a lot of lefties out there, so it's going to be a little tricky," said Sharapova, who holds a 2-1 career mark over Schnyder. "I have to feel her out early in the match, but I'm going to go out play my game. I'm excited to be back in the semis."
Schnyder, who lost to top-seeded Kim Clijsters in the Stanford final last week, knows it won't be an easy task to stop the speedy Sharapova.
"She's so mentally tough and can focus on each ball all the time and come up with big shots at the big points," Schnyder said. "It's going to be a tough one from the start.
In the featured night match, Clijsters continued her hardcourt success with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over No. 8 Martina Hingis of Switzerland. The Belgian has won 23 straight hardcourt matches on U.S. soil.
A five-time Grand Slam champion, Hingis also fell to Clijsters in the quarters of both the Australian Open and French Open earlier this year.
|Kim Klijsters 225 w|
Both players needed three sets to reach the round of eight here. Clijsters posted a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 triumph over Jelena Jankovic for her 22nd consecutive North American summer hardcourt win, while the Swiss Hingis beat No. 12 Flavia Pennetta, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Clijster next will face 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova after the seventh-seeded Czech rallied past Russian Anna Chakvetadze, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. The match lasted just over two hours was marred by 14 service breaks.
Vaidisova, who will move into the Top 10 for the first time in her young career when the latest rankings are released on Monday, lost to Clijsters in the Stanford semifinals last week in their only meeting.
"In the semifinals you can't expect an easy match, but I'm looking forward to it," Vaidisova said. "I think my game is on a good level, and anything can happen. I'm excited about tomorrow."