LOS ANGELES (TICKER)
-- The quarterfinals of the East West Bank Classic featured four Russians. By the time the semifinals were set, that number was sliced in half.
Top seed Maria Sharapova set up a semifinal meeting with countrywoman Nadia Petrova by posting a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over fellow Russian Elena Dementieva at the $600,000 tournament.
The fourth-seeded Petrova overcame a slow start, posting a 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-1 victory over Italian Virginie Razzano in a match from the bottom half of the left side of the draw. Unseeded Russian Maria Kirilenko was unable to advance, however, as she dropped a 6-4, 6-4 decision to third seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.
A winner at San Diego last week, Sharapova is showing signs of returning to the form that allowed her to capture his second career Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last year.
Throughout her brief career, the 20-year-old has had very little trouble with the ninth-seeded Dementieva. Sharapova has won six of the last seven meetings, including a 6-1, 6-2 rout in the final of Indian Wells in 2006.
However, the one victory Dementieva did record was in the semifinals here, as the 25-year-old went on to win the title. She had reached at least the semifinals in the previous three years here.
Sharapova did avoid an upset on Thursday, outlasting Dutch player Michaella Krajicek, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (3-7), 6-4.
Dementieva was in control of her match with fifth seed Daniela Hantuchova on Thursday when her opponent was forced to withdraw due to an upper-respiratory illness, 6-3, 4-1.
The 25-year-old Petrova reached the quarterfinals here for the third time in the last four years with a 6-1, 6-2 rout over No. 15 Katarina Srebotnik on Thursday.
However, it will be Petrova's first semifinal appearance here.
Kirilenko, who upset sixth seed Marion Bartoli in the second round, failed to do the same to Ivanovic.
A finalist at the French Open who is in the midst of a career year, Ivanovic is playing in her first tournament since a semifinal showing at Wimbledon. The stunning 19-year-old blew past No. 16 Lucie Safarova, 6-2, 6-2, on Thursday.
Ivanovic moves on to the semifinals for a meeting with Jelena Jankovic, who dispatched Belarus teenager Victoria Azarenka, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 in a hard-fought battle. The second seed and a finalist here last year, Jankovic is seeking her fifth title of the year.
Jankovic reached the quarters by routing No. 13 Sybille Bammer, 6-2, 6-1, on Thursday. The 18-year-old Azarenka was coming off a 6-1, 6-2 win over Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine.
First prize is $88,260.