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Bondarenko Dispatches Sharapova, Semifinals Set

Alona Bondarenko and Anne Keothavong reach the semis in Warsaw, along with a Romanian.

Published May 21, 2009 12:00

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WARSAW, Poland - Maria Sharapova's return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour hit a roadblock on Thursday afternoon as she lost to Alona Bondarenko in the quarterfinals of the Warsaw Open in straight sets.

Sharapova, who was playing her first singles event after nine months of injury lay-off and was a wildcard in the draw, lost to the No.8-seeded Bondarenko handily, 62 62, the Ukrainian's first win in their three meetings.

"I have to give Alona all of the credit she deserves. When she was up, she played really solid and rode it out until the end," Sharapova said. "I felt my shots were too short and I wasn't patient enough. On clay you have to be patient and wait for your opportunities.

"I'm happy with the way I played here though. Obviously no one likes to lose, but I've spent about three or four hours competing on the court this week and that's what I needed. I'm very thankful for the wildcard I got from the tournament."

"Maria played with the same speed and power she had before the injury, the only difference is she made more errors," Bondarenko said afterwards. "I'm happy with the way I played and the result today. If I continue to play like this I think I can win some matches at the French Open next week. We will see."

Bondarenko will next face unseeded Anne Keothavong, who beat qualifier Ioana Raluca Olaru in an even quicker match on Thursday, 60 61.

"I feel like I played very well today. I didn't lose my focus. I think my opponent may have been a little tired too," said Keothavong, who lost her only previous meeting with Bondarenko, at an ITF Women's Circuit event four years ago. "I'm definitely enjoying my stay here in Poland. I have yet to lose a match here."

Having qualified for her first main draw at the Tour-level, Alexandra Dulgheru continued her unlikely run with a 61 75 quarterfinal win over Galina Voskoboeva. Dulgheru will next face No.6 seed Daniela Hantuchova, who beat unseeded Klara Zakopalova in the last quarterfinal of the day, 63 46 64. Hantuchova, who has never made a clay court final, will face Dulgheru for the first time.

"It wasn't exactly a Slavic war but it was a close match," Hantuchova said about her win over Zakopalova. "That's how it is in tennis. I thought Klara would give me some more chances in the second set, but she played well and after losing the game at 4-5 I just had to forget about it and focus on the third set.

"I do not know my next opponent. I have never seen her play before. She has to be quite good to be able to get through qualifying and reach the semifinals. I try not to worry about the other side of the net - I do the right things for me."

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