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Distraction Doesn't Stop Sharapova

Her victory over Dementieva is routine, aside from appearance by a streaker. Clijsters, Henin-Hardenne, Mauresmo also in semis.

July 05, 2006|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England — A streaker did a cartwheel on Centre Court and Elena Dementieva complained about Maria Sharapova's grunting, but the tennis played during the Wimbledon women's quarterfinals wasn't very compelling Tuesday.

Sharapova, the 2004 champion who is seeded fourth, double-faulted after the naked man ran around the court before security personnel finally covered him with a blanket and led him away. But she beat Dementieva, 6-1, 6-4.

Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne won. Second-seeded Clijsters beat Li Na, the first Chinese woman to advance to any major quarterfinal, 6-4, 7-5, and third-seeded Henin-Hardenne was pushed by French qualifier Severine Bremond before winning, 6-4, 6-4.

Top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo did play three sets before beating ninth-seeded Anastasia Myskina, but mostly it was France's Mauresmo throwing away the middle set before she settled down for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win.

The results set up one semifinal on Thursday that few are dreaming of, Henin-Hardenne versus Clijsters, and the more intriguing matchup involving Sharapova and Mauresmo. Sharapova has grown more feisty and comfortable as the tournament has progressed. Mauresmo? One never knows.

Sharapova was positively demure when the male streaker ran onto the court just as the 19-year-old was about to serve with her 3-0 lead in the second set. She turned her back and faced the Royal Box. After a moment of surprise, Dementieva tried to suppress a giggle.

"It was real bizarre," Sharapova said. "Even more bizarre that it took like 10 seconds for security to come out. I didn't really look at the guy, thank God."

Dementieva said she was worried for a moment.

"The first feeling was like something happening here, a little scary," she said. "But then, I mean, if the crowd likes it, that's OK with me."

The two Belgians have played 21 times and Henin-Hardenne has won 11, including the last four meetings at major tournaments. Henin-Hardenne easily won their French Open semifinal, 6-3, 6-2, in a little more than an hour.

"Obviously," Clijsters said, "I've lost the last few matches that I've played against her. In a way, I have nothing to lose."

Except a shot at a Wimbledon title, which neither Clijsters nor Henin-Hardenne has won. Henin-Hardenne made it to a Wimbledon final, but that was five years ago.

Henin-Hardenne has said that the French Open title means more to her than any other Grand Slam title -- she has won three of those. She also has won one U.S. Open and an Australian Open.

"It's a great challenge for me, Wimbledon," she said. "So it's starting to be something very important for myself."

Sharapova arrived uncertain about how her injured right ankle would hold up, but she has been moving better and serving more dangerously.

Dementieva actually complimented Sharapova on the serve. "I really think she has a great one," she said. "She has improved a lot."

But then she suggested officials should put a muffler on Sharapova's shrieking grunts that vary in length and loudness on every point.

"It's a little too much," she said. "I think the umpire should calm her down a little bit." But then she added, "When you're losing, 6-1, 4-1, it doesn't look good if you're going to go to the umpire talking about how loud she's screaming on the court."

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Wimbledon at a glance

WOMEN'S QUARTERFINALS RESULTS

* No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo of France beat No. 9 Anastasia Myskina of Russia, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

* No. 2 Kim Clijsters of Belgium beat No. 27 Li Na of China, 6-4, 7-5.

* No. 3 Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium beat Severine Bremond of France, 6-4, 6-4.

* No. 4 Maria Sharapova of Russia beat No. 7 Elena Dementieva of Russia, 6-1, 6-4.

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TODAY'S MEN'S QUARTERFINALS

* No. 1 Roger Federer vs. No. 7 Mario Ancic

* No. 2 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 22 Jarkko Nieminen

* No. 6 Lleyton Hewitt vs. No. 18 Marcos Baghdatis

* No. 14 Radek Stepanek vs. Jonas Bjorkman

Source: Associated Press

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