Sharapova waltzes into semis

Kvitova halts Shvedovas dream run; Nadal blasts past Almagro; Murray exits

Sharapova waltzes into semis

So straightforward was Maria Sharapova's quarterfinal win over Kaia Kanepi on Wednesday that she could even have found time on Philippe Chatrier Court to indulge in her favourite hobby: people watching.

A decibel-busting display of power tennis helped her to reach her third French Open semifinal with a routine 6-2, 6-3 win that was little more than a one-sided mismatch.

The towering Russian fired a series of winners, each accompanied by her habitual shrieks, to break her opponent's serve seven times and walked off court with a smile and a wave after one hour and 14 minutes of tennis.

It left Sharapova the afternoon free to swan off to the Champs Elysees and soak up the atmosphere among the locals.  “I love people watching in Tokyo but Paris is another level,” she explained to reporters who had little to ask about the match.

“I love the way that people go about their lives and the way they sit at cafes like a few centimetres from the cars going by.  Everyone sits close to each other and you're eavesdropping on their conversations.”

Sharapova will now play Petra Kvitova, who conquered Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the other women’s quarterfinal match of the day.

The Russian leads their head-to-head 3-2 but the memory of last year's Wimbledon final when Kvitova shocked her to win the title will no doubt be on her mind. “She's an extremely tough opponent,” Sharapova said. “When she's confident and when she's hitting the ball well she's quite dangerous. It's going to be another level.  I hope that I can raise my level too.”

Shvedova, 24, had knocked out defending champion Li Na of China in the fourth round and would have been the first qualifier to make it to the women's semifinals at Roland Garros but Kvitova had other ideas.

Nadal, Ferrer in semis

Rafael Nadal defeated fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the semifinals without dropping a single set.

It was the 50th win for Nadal at the spiritual home of claycourt tennis since he first competed here as an 18-year-old in 2005.

His only defeat came in the fourth round in 2009 when he lost to Robin Soderling of Sweden in a fourth round match.

This year Nadal is bidding to become the first player to win seven French Open titles, moving him out of a tie with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg. A win on Sunday would also be his 11th Grand Slam title, level with Borg and Rod Laver.

In the end Almagro went the way of so many others over the course of the last seven years, but he gave a solid account of himself especially in a hotly-disputed first set.
In the semifinal, Nadal will play countryman David Ferrer.

Ferrer advanced to his first French Open semifinal by upsetting fourth seed Andy Murray 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.

The Spaniard, nicknamed 'The Wall', put up an impenetrable barrier to deflect everything Murray could throw at him, before his metronomic reliability finally ground his opponent down.

The Scot had been gaining momentum to level at one set all when a rain delay turned the match on its head and claycourt specialist Ferrer quickly got the upper hand.
The other semifinal has already been set, with top seed Novak Djokovic taking on third seed Roger Federer.

Quarterfinal results (prefix denotes seeding):
Men’s singles: 2-Rafa Nadal (Spain) bt 12-Nicolas Almagro (Spain) 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3;  David Ferrer (Spain) bt Andy Murray (Britain) 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-2.
Women’s singles: 4-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) bt Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4; 2-Maria Sharapova (Russia) bt 23-Kaia Kanepi (Estonia) 6-2, 6-3.

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