Sharapova breezes into finals

August 4, 2007 06:44 PM
CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) -- Maria Sharapova used a big first serve to reach the finals of the Acura Classic by defeating Anna Chakvetadze 6-3, 6-2 Saturday.

Sharapova snapped her fellow Russian's 12-match winning streak. Chakvetadze, who has yet to beat Sharapova in five career meetings, won two straight WTA tournaments, at Cincinnati and Stanford.

"I thought the first set was pretty competitive," Sharapova said. "I felt like once I got the first break in the second set, I felt like I was on cruise control. It was a little too easy."

Sharapova, in her third final of the season, will defend her title against No. 11 seed Patty Schnyder of Switzerland. Schnyder defeated Elena Dementieva 7-6 (4), 6-0 in a night match.

Schnyder won the first-set tiebreak, due in part to Dementieva's shaky play. Dementieva fell behind 4-0 on three unforced errors and a double fault. She then double faulted at 6-4 to give Schnyder the set.

The left-handed Schnyder soundly outplayed her Russian counterpart in the second set. Schnyder finally sealed the victory on her seventh match point of the sixth game when Dementieva hit a backhand wide.

Schnyder, who beat Dementieva in the quarterfinals of this tournament last year, won her third straight match against a higher seeded player. Schnyder will play in her first final match in more than a year.

Chakvetadze pressured Sharapova in the first set with numerous long rallies, but Sharapova gave away little on her serve -- Chakvetadze had just one break point in the first set, which she didn't convert.

Sharapova went up a break at 3-2 in the first set when she hit a perfect backhand drop shot. But with Chakvetadze serving and Sharapova up 5-3, Chakvetadze made two unforced errors at 30-all to give the set to Sharapova.

The 20-year-old Russians were on serve in the second set when Sharapova broke Chakvetadze in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead. After Sharapova held her serve, she broke at love in the sixth game for a 5-1 lead. Chakvetadze said her legs started to cramp near the end of the second set.

"I felt very tired," she said. "Maria played very well and hit a lot of winners, but I couldn't run."

Sharapova has lost just 15 games in four matches, though she hasn't won a title since October. Sharapova had 26 winners to five for Chakvetadze.

Chakvetadze, the winner of four titles this year, lost for only the third time in 26 matches since May. But two of the losses have come against Sharapova.