Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cibulkova crushes Sharapova

Cibulkova crushes Sharapova

Dominika Cibulkova will Dinara Safina for a place in the French Open final after thrashing Maria Sharapova 6-0 6-2.

The Slovakian 20th seed was in blistering form, making just a solitary unforced error in the first set, and belied the fact that she had never made it past round three at Roland Garros to simply blow Sharapova off the court.

Sharapova had been taken to three sets in each of her previous matches - having only returned in March this year after seven months out with a shoulder injury - and she seemed to run out of gas in the quarter-final on Suzanne Lenglen court.

The Russian had defeated her opponent in both their previous meetings, each of which came on clay last year, and towered almost a foot taller than the world number 19.

However, it was Cibulkova who made the big impression early on, breaking three times in succession to blitz Sharapova 6-0 in an opening set which lasted only half an hour.

Cibulkova was putting on a fine show in her first grand slam quarter-final and broke her bemused-looking adversary again in the opening game of the second set.

Two more breaks followed and the dreaded double-bagel was only averted when Sharapova finally got on the board in the 12th game of the match.

Pride was salvaged but the match was irretrievable, and Cibulkova served out at the next time of asking.

Earlier, Safina came from a set down to defeat 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka.

The Russian was given the runaround in the first set and was at one stage being held at 4-4 in the second, but recovered her poise to eke out a 1-6 6-4 6-2 victory on Philippe Chatrier court.

Ninth seed Azarenka, playing her first grand-slam quarter-final, had beaten Safina at Indian Wells earlier this year and had also won three titles in 2009, in Brisbane, Memphis and Miami.

She was therefore not overawed in the slightest and played an almost perfect first set, which lasted just 23 minutes.

Azarenka broke to 15 in the very first game and went 4-1 up when she grabbed a break on Safina's third service game.

The Belarussian was prospering under blue skies, her length and nagging consistency troubling Safina, who dropped her serve again in game seven to hand Azarenka the set.

Early in the second set, Safina suddenly found the form that had seen her lose just five games in her run to the quarters.

She broke in the third and fifth games, and would have been given further encouragement when Azarenka slammed her racquet down in disgust the moment she went 4-1 down.

The teenager fought back superbly to make it 4-4 but Safina rallied again to break and then hold to take the set.

Azarenka dropped serve in the first game of the third set and world number one Safina, who has yet to win a grand slam, finished the stronger to wrap up victory in an hour and 52 minutes
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