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MaSha marches into Pan Pacific semis

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:46

Maria Sharapova recovered from a break down in each set to see off Iveta Benesova 6-4 7-5 and move into the semi-finals of the Pan Pacific Open, remaining on course for a potential final showdown with Jelena Jankovic.

The former world No.1, unseeded in Tokyo as she continues her ascent up the rankings following shoulder surgery last year, will play Agnieszka Radwanska in the final four after the Pole crushed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3 6-1.

Jankovic will meet Na Li after the No.15 seed edged past Victoria Azarenka 7-6(7) 4-6 7-6(4), meaning the Serbian is the only member of the top ten to reach the semis of the nine that started the tournament.

“I’m a pretty aggressive player – I like to attack from the baseline, from serves and returns”

Sharapova, the 2005 champion, lost the opening game of the match with a double fault, but leveled to make it 4-4 with a forehand winner at the net before breaking again two games later for the set.

The 22-year-old again struggled with her serve in the second, relying on winners to keep her in the match – particularly punishing Benesova’s second serve.

“I think that’s really the goal, to be aggressive, not to be passive,” said Sharapova, who claimed her first career WTA title at the 2003 Japan Open. “The goal is really to stay aggressive no matter what the points are in the match, what the situation is.

“That’s my game, that’s how I always play. I’m a pretty aggressive player – I like to attack from the baseline, from serves and returns. That usually means that I’m going to make a little more errors.”

“It’s always wonderful to come back to a place where you had such great success and good memories, and just feel like I really get the crowd’s support,” Sharapova added.

“It’s really warm here towards all the players. I love coming here, I love the country itself, I love Tokyo, so it’s always a fun trip.”

No.7 seed Jankovic, another former world No.1, powered her way through to a 6-4 6-3 victory over Marion Bartoli, putting an end to her four-match losing streak against the Frenchwoman.

“Sometimes I dropped service games but I held many of them, and broke her serve a couple of times. I thought I did quite well,” said Jankovic.

“She is a good returner. Sometimes I hit good serves, but she broke back and used my power. So I tried to hit so hard first serves and mixed it up at times, which was the difference today.”

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