Sublime Sharapova breezes into semis

Sublime Sharapova breezes into semis

Lisicki weathers Bartoli storm to enter last four

Sharapova will meet Sabine Lisicki, who continued her heart-warming run when she beat Marion Bartoli to become the first German woman to reach the semifinals since 1999.

The 21-year-old, who needed a wildcard into the tournament after sliding down the rankings due to a career-threatening ankle injury, played sparkling tennis to beat livewire ninth seed Bartoli 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 as rain drummed on Centre Court's closed roof and thunder rumbled.

The tall Russian, the last former champion left in the women's draw having triumphed in 2004, broke three times in the first set under the Centre Court roof as she dominated the small Slovak Cibulkova from the baseline.

Three further breaks in the second set meant victory, in just over an hour, was a mere formality on the grass.

Having not dropped a set all tournament, Sharapova now looks hot favourite to seal her fourth grand slam title.

After the sticky heat of Monday, the heavens opened over the All England Club just before the scheduled start following an ear-splitting crack from the darkening skies.

The unfamiliar line-up of the women's last eight produced some raised eyebrows but Lisicki and Bartoli produced a riveting contest full of incredible rallies. Lisicki missed five months in 2010 with an ankle injury and slumped to 179th in the rankings from a high of 22nd in 2009 when she also reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

The bubbly German, who beat French Open champion Li Na in the second round, also suffered a health scare in Roland Garros where she was carried off on a stretcher following a second round defeat by Vera Zvonareva.

There was nothing wrong with her on Tuesday, though, as she finally exhausted the eccentric Frenchwoman's reserves of energy which had seen her through several tough rounds including Monday's shock defeat of reigning champion Serena Williams.

The powerful German took the opening set in 42 minutes and recovered from a break down in the second to serve for her first grand slam semifinal at 5-4, only to squander three match points when she was struck by nerves.

Bhupathi, Paes progress

India’s Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi advanced to the third round in the mixed doubles category with their respective partners.

Bhupathi and Elena Vesnina of Russia, seeded fourth, defeated Australian Stephen Huss and Anastasia Rodionova 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) on Monday.

Paes and Cara Black of Zimababe, seeded 14th, defeated Rogier Wassen of the Netherlands and Alicja Rosolska of Poland 6-1, 6-4.

Somdev Devvarman, and Kei Nishikori of Japan lost 3-6, 4-6, 6-7 (5-7) to sixth seed Michael Llodra of France and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia.

Quarterfinal results (prefix denotes seeding): Women’s singles: 5-Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt 24-Dominika Cibulkova (Slv) 6-1, 6-1; Sabine Lisicki (Ger) bt 9-Marion Bartoli (Fra) 6-4, 6-7 (7-4), 6-1.

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