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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 19:39 GMT 20:39 UK
Sharapova beats Williams in semis
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova raised her game superbly to overpower a rejuvenated Venus Williams 6-4 6-3 in the Nasdaq-100 Open semi-finals.

Williams looked to have the edge in a tight first set dominated by serve, but Sharapova found her return to convert her second break point in game 10.

The Russian hit her very best form in the second set, breaking straight away.

And she recovered from 0-40, saving six break points, before taking her third match point in a dramatic final game.

Sharapova had been jeered by the crowd as early as the fifth game when she gestured to the stands after losing a lengthy rally.

Her suggestion that crowd noise had lost her the point did not go down well with the Florida public, who were strongly backing local resident Williams.

I'm a big competitor and I love to fight
Maria Sharapova

But, as is so often the case, a moment of adversity only served to concentrate Sharapova's mind and it was the Russian who raised her game.

The relentless pace and power of her groundstrokes, and a typically consistent serving performance, left Williams struggling to stay in touch.

Williams was unable to put any pressure on the Wimbledon champion until what proved to be the final game, before Sharapova again showed her steely side to save a succession of break points.

"I think we both of fought to the end," said Sharapova. "So many points were so big. I'm a big competitor and I love to fight.

"Everyone is hungry and everyone wants to beat me so I know that I have to be that way if I want to win."

Kim Clijsters thrashed Amelie Mauresmo 6-1 6-0 in the second semi-final.


SEE ALSO
Clijsters continues winning run
24 Mar 05 |  Tennis
Henin-Hardenne wins on comeback
26 Mar 05 |  Tennis


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