Sharapova Breaks The Pattern, Reaches SFs
Published March 27, 2012 12:00
MIAMI, FL, USA - Maria Sharapova finally broke Li Na's stranglehold on their rivalry on Tuesday afternoon, snapping a four-match losing streak against the Chinese with a 63 60 steamrolling in the Sony Ericsson Open quarterfinals.
Li had beaten Sharapova in straight sets in their last four meetings in a row, including some very big matches last year - the semifinals of the French Open and in the round robin stage of the WTA Championships. Needless to say, Sharapova was a woman on a mission as they took Stadium court in Miami.
The early goings were close, with both players struggling on their serve - the first five games went to the returner - but the No.2-seeded Sharapova's big baseline game suddenly clicked from 4-3, winning her eight games in a row, and 12 points in a row at one point. The Russian ran away with a 68-minute victory.
"I came into this match losing to her the last few times. I really wanted to change that," Sharapova said. "I was really consistent today in conditions where it was a little gusty and blowing around, and I faced a tough opponent too. I did a good job of maintaining my consistency throughout the whole match."
Sharapova is now through to the semifinals here for the fourth time in her career. The other three times she has moved onto the final as well, but has never won the title (she was a runner-up to Kim Clijsters in 2005, Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2006 and Victoria Azarenka in 2011). This is the second-biggest tournament she has never won (she has never won the French Open before either).
"Either one is extremely tough," Sharapova said of her potential semifinal opponents. "I haven't beaten Serena in a while, so I'd love to play her. It's good to see her back and playing really good tennis. We haven't played much in the last two years, first me being out then she was out for a while. And Caroline has been one of the most consistent players on the tour for many reasons.
"Either way it's the semifinals, a tough stage, and a tough opponent."
Li, who was the No.8 seed, matched her best Miami result by reaching the quarterfinals this year, having already gone this far twice before, in 2007 (losing to Anna Chakvetadze) and 2009 (losing to Serena Williams).