SAN DIEGO (TICKER)
-- Maria Sharapova is back in the semifinals at the $1.34 million Acura Classic.
The top seed and defending champion coasted past unseeded Sania Mirza of India, 6-2, 6-1, in quarterfinal action at the hardcourt event Friday.
This is the Russian's sixth semifinal appearance of the season, though she has yet to capture a singles title in 2007. Despite a nagging right shoulder injury, the 20-year-old has reached the finals twice this season, losing to Serena Williams at the Australian Open and Jelena Jankovic in Birmingham.
"I haven't had a lot of success this year, but I'm hoping to turn that around with a win here," Sharapova said.
After upsetting No. 12 Shahar Peer and No. 8 Dinara Safina to reach this point, Mirza had no answer for the world's No. 2. Sharapova converted 17-of-23 first serves and won 6-of-9 break points during the 61-minute match.
The winner of 16 consecutive sets in this event, Sharapova next will face No. 3 Anna Chakvetadze, who is in search of her third consecutive tournament win.
The Russian outlasted No. 10 Venus Williams, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, on Friday night. Chakvetadze has won 12 consecutive matches on this surface en route to capturing titles at Stanford on Sunday and Cincinnati the previous week.
The American Williams, who had won her two previous meetings with Chakvetadze, cruised through the first three rounds of the hardcourt event without dropping a set. The loss snapped Williams' 10-match winning streak as she fell to 33-7 this season.
On the other side of the draw, 11th seed Patty Schnyder earned her second upset in as many days Friday with a 6-4, 6-4 win in the quarterfinals against No. 4 Nadia Petrova. The Switzerland native ousted compatriot Martina Hingis, the seven seed, in the third round on Thursday.
Playing in her 17th event of the year, the 28-year-old is seeking her first finals appearance of the season and first singles title since July 2005.
Schnyder's semifinal opponent is No. 9 Elena Dementieva, who beat unseeded Maria Kirilenko, 6-2, 6-4, on the bottom of the draw Friday. The Russian has plenty of history with Schnyder as the players have split a dozen career meetings since 1997.
This will be their first meeting of the year, a season after Schnyder won three of four head-to-head matches. This was the first quarterfinal of the season for Kirilenko, who shook up the draw with an upset against No. 2 Jelena Jankovic in the third round on Thursday.
First prize is $181,980.