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Sharapova continues impressive resurgence

WIMBLEDON, England — Maria Sharapova's coach called it "a statement."

For one hour of excellence, Sharapova played, and sounded, just as she did when she was a teenager, when it seemed nothing could stop her.

Her powerful groundstrokes cut through the grass, landing right where she wanted. Her solid service returns flummoxed her overmatched opponent. And her shrieks bounced around Centre Court, its retractable roof shut to keep out the rain.

Sharapova beat 24th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 6-1 on Tuesday to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time since 2006, in the days before she needed surgery on her right shoulder and dealt with doubts about her future.

"I would have loved for it not to have taken that long, but I'm not complaining. It's the road that you sometimes have to take. It's not always straight; there are a lot of zigzags. A lot of time, you feel like it's a dead end," said Sharapova, who won her first Grand Slam title at age 17 at Wimbledon in 2004.

"I've worked really hard to get in this stage, but I'm not saying this is where I want to end. I want to keep going."

A day after the Williams sisters and No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki were sent home, the three women responsible for those upsets all lost:

• Cibulkova, who beat Wozniacki, held serve to open her match against Sharapova then lost the next eight games.

• No. 9 Marion Bartoli, who beat Serena, faded down the stretch and lost 6-4, 6-7 (7-4), 6-1 to wild-card entry Sabine Lisicki, the first German woman to reach Wimbledon's semifinals since Steffi Graf in 1999.

• No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova, who beat Venus, was eliminated 6-3, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2 by No. 8 Petra Kvitova, a semifinalist for the second straight year.

Thursday, Sharapova meets Lisicki and Kvitova faces No. 4 Victoria Azarenka, who got to her first Grand Slam semifinal with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over unseeded Tamira Paszek in the day's last match.

"Looking at the rankings, everybody says, 'You should have been already in the semifinals,' " Azarenka said. "It was a great win for me."

Nadal okay

Buoyed by the good news that his painful left foot isn't seriously injured, top-seeded Rafael Nadal put in about an hour of practice a day before facing Tampa's Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals. Toni Nadal, Rafael's uncle and coach, said his nephew is "100 percent; even if he was 50 percent, I would tell you he's 100 percent."

.Today

Wimbledon

All England Club, London

Key matches

Men: No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 10 Mardy Fish, No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. Bernard Tomic, No. 3 Roger Federer vs. No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 4 Andy Murray vs. Feliciano Lopez

TV: 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., ESPN2; 10 a.m., Ch. 8

Sharapova continues impressive resurgence 06/28/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 6:36pm]
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