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Sharapova's Injury Sends Kirilenko to Final

Maria Kirilenko won a Russian derby, upseting top seed Maria Sharapova 6-4, 2-1 after Sharapova's withdrawal due to right pectoral muscle injury at a China Open semifinal on Saturday.

It was the second WTA final for Kirilenko, who will meet Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany in the final on Sunday.

According to WTA rules, 18-year-old Kirilenko will receive an award of 100 points by beating the world top player in an ordinary event, and this will definitely boost her world ranking.

"I played very well in the first set and played my best," Kirilenko said in a press conference.

She didn't notice when Sharapova was hurt, but as good friends, she hoped that Sharapova would recover soon.

Kirilenko, world ranked 45, broke twice in the third and fifth games in the first set, leading 4-1 when Sharapova, world No. 1, broke back in the next to trail 4-2. In the next sea-sawed four games, Kirilenko laughed the last at 6-4.

Sharapova was broken in the first game in the second set and lost the next to trail 2-0. After holding her service in the third game at 2-1, the winner of 10 WTA tours pulled out, citing that in Los Angeles in August 2005, she injured her right pectoral muscle after reaching the quarterfinal.

With this victory, Kirilenko improved her win-loss record to 35-21 in 2005 and that of her career 104-59, while Sharapova's down to 51-9 in 2005 and that of her career 172-43.

Sharapova did realize that her plagued injury recurred and tried to see, in her practice, if the injury would affect her play.

"The reality is that it's very painful," said Sharapova, "I had hoped to play my 100 percent form but..I don't know..I'm sorry for the fans."

(Xinhua News Agency September 25, 2005)

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