Maiden French semis for Azarenka
Paris (Agencies): A hail of unforced errors could not melt away Maria Sharapova's French Open dreams as the Russian kept alive hopes of retaining the...
Paris (Agencies): A hail of unforced errors could not melt away Maria Sharapova's French Open dreams as the Russian kept alive hopes of retaining the title with a 0-6 6-4 6-3 win over Jelena Jankovic in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. Sharapova had entered the contest with a 7-1 win-loss record over her old sparring partner from the Bollettieri Academy but no one would have guessed following her first-set meltdown when 20 unforced errors flew off her racket. A slight tactical mistake from Jankovic in the opening game of the second set, when she opted to hit the ball at Sharapova rather than go for an outright winner, threw the Serbian off balance and she went on to drop her serve and the set. That left the 18th-seeded Jankovic to resort to her usual habit of muttering away to herself as second seed Sharapva kept her eye on the ball to break in the seventh game of the third. A forehand into the tramlines from Jankovic handed Sharapova a place in the semi-finals for the third year running and a date with third-seeded Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka who beat Russian Maria Kirilenko 7-6 (3) 6-2. Meanwhile, World number three Victoria Azarenka reached her first French Open semifinal when she defeated friend and former doubles partner, Maria Kirilenko of Russia, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2. The 23-year-old Australian Open winner will face defending champion Maria Sharapova, the second seed, who beat Serbian 18th seed Jelena Jankovic, 0-6, 6-4, 6-3, for a place in Saturday's final after clinching a fourth successive victory over Russian 12th seed Kirilenko. Kirilenko, 26, bidding to reach a first career Grand Slam semifinal, simply lacked the armoury to upset Azarenka with whom she had reached the final of the women's doubles at the Australian Open in 2012. The seven-times champion produced his best performance of the tournament so far to win 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 and set up a much-anticipated semi-final with Novak Djokovic. "I have improved a bit, or more than a bit, in everything. I played at a high level, but I have to keep improving," ... "is always something positive."said Nadal.