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Sharapova storms past Kanepi as Kvitova survives scare

ESPN staff
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Maria Sharapova kept her hopes of securing a career Grand Slam alive as she booked her place in the French Open semi-finals with a straight sets victory over Kaia Kanepi.

The world No. 2 started both sets slowly but ultimately proved too strong for the Estonian as she powered to a 6-2 6-3 victory.

Both players appeared to struggle to settle in the early stages as the opening three games went with return. Sharapova, who opened her first service game with a double fault, eventually settled the nerves with a love service game to take a 3-1 lead.

The Russian, who dropped just five games in her opening three matches, overpowered her opponent in the rallies, Kanepi's defence attempting to take all the power out of Sharapova's powerful strokes.

Targeting her opponent's backhand, Sharapova dictated the rallies, and grabbed a second break when the Estonian sent a forehand long, before holding her nerve to see out the opening set.

It was not all plain sailing for Sharapova as she found herself a break down in the second set, but she quickly recovered, winning five games to tighten her grip on the match. Serving for the victory some wayward hitting saw her broken to love, but it merely delayed the inevitable as the Russian broke straight back to snatch victory.

In a repeat of last year's Wimbledon final, Sharapova will meet fourth seed Petra Kvitova in the last four after the Czech survived a real scare against world No. 142 Yaroslava Shvedova.

Shvedova, who came through three rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw in Paris and knocked out defending champion Li Na in the last round, looked to be on course for another scalp after breaking midway through the decider, but Kvitova held firm for a 3-6 6-2 6-4 victory.

It was an underwhelming performance from the Wimbledon champion, who started sluggishly and never really hit top gear, making 32 unforced errors as she laboured to victory.

Finding herself behind to an early break, Kvitova worked hard to claw her way back into the contest but all her hard work was immediately undone as Shvedova broke straight back for a 4-2 lead.

While Shvedova was working the angles and hitting the ball to a good length, Kvitova's game was racked with errors as she tamely surrendered the opening set.

But after dropping her serve early in the second set, Kvitova began to find her range and deservedly forced a third set with a forehand winner down the line.

She looked to be firmly on course for victory with an early break in the decider, but a series of unforced errors allowed Shvedova back into the match, and the Kazakh showed no signs of nerves as she grabbed a 4-2 lead.

However, Kvitova managed to pull herself together and broke back before breaking Shvedova in her final service game to avoid an upset.

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