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Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 18:35 UK

Sharapova injured ahead of Paris

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova hopes to be back on court in a few days

An injury for Maria Sharapova ahead of the French Open overshadowed semi-finals day at the Italian Open.

Sharapova pulled out before her match against defending champion Jelena Jankovic with a left calf problem.

She said: "I think it was the smart decision. The most important thing is to be ready for the French Open."

In the final, Jankovic will face Alize Cornet after the French qualifier fought back to stun sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze 3-6 6-4 6-3.

"Nobody can stop me, I believe in me," said Cornet who recovered from being a set and 0-3 down against the Russian.

"I just beat a second top-10 player in one tournament. I'll try for my third one tomorrow."

Serbian fourth seed Jankovic will be expected to retain her title against Cornet, and claimed she was disappointed when Sharapova pulled out.

"I wanted to play. I was ready for another challenge, another tough match," she said.

"But I'm happy to be in the final and have a big opportunity to win to defend my title."

Sharapova was feeling the effects of her tough match against Patty Schnyder which ended late on Friday night, in which she rallied to win 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 6-2.

She said of her injury: "It's a strain. I need maybe two or three days off before I can test it out again, that's the diagnosis.

"When I stepped on my foot today I knew there was no chance I'd be able to go on court, but I hope in two days I'll be back to normal."

Despite her pull-out, Sharapova's rise to number one in the rankings will be confirmed on Monday following the surprise retirement of Justine Henin.

The Italian Open has been troubled by injuries, just as the men's Rome Masters was last week.

Cornet got a walkover into the last four on Friday when Serena Williams pulled out of their quarter-final with a back injury.

Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova progressed to the quarter-finals when Belarussian Victoria Azarenka retired with a knee injury from their third round match.

Both of the semi-finals and one of the quarters at last week's Rome Masters ended early because of injury.

see also
Sharapova reaches Italian semis
16 May 08 |  Tennis
Sharapova reaches Rome quarters
15 May 08 |  Tennis

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