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Kuznetsova Beats Sharapova in Semifinal

Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova suffered a major defeat by newly US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the "Russian Derby" semi-final of the 585,000 US dollars China Open WTA tour on Saturday.

A big-serving Kuznetsova cruised through 6-2, 6-2 in 64 minutes to upset her ambitious Russian compatriot.

Sharapova had a dream start, breaking Kuznetsova's first serve with a fantastic love game and holding her own service game. However, Kuznetsova found herself after early setbacks, showing off deadly aces and accurate sharp-angle baseline shots. The 2nd seed managed three breaks in the first set to beat Sharapova with 6-2 in half an hour.

After outgunned and outplayed by her tough opponent, Sharapova rallied in the second set, firing some first-class baseline drives to hold her first two service games. But the nice 3rd seed's effort was overshadowed by Kuznetsova's gorgeous performance. Kuznetsova broke twice both in the 6th and 8th game relying on her threatening big-serving tactics. The apparently low-form Sharapova made many unforced errors and even sent a double fault to her glancing rival to lose at the match point.

"I had the chance to break in the first set, but I missed it. Kuznetsova played great tennis today. I had a lot to learn from my mistakes, and I have to improve physically," Sharapova said after the match.

"Confidence is the most important reason why she won the match, besides, she had a lot of deep shots on the court."

"I didn't expect it could be so easy, but I just played my game. I just do what I can to win the match," Kuznetsova told the press.

Kuznetsova would expect a big collision with former world number 1 Serena Williams or countryman Vera Zvonareva in the final on Sunday.

(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2004)

Serena Sails into Final at China Open
Serena Wins over Petrova to Reach China Open Semis
Kuznetsova Squeezes Through to Quarters
China Open 2004
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