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Sharapova edges Radwanska to maintain top 10 spot

ESPN staff
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Maria Sharapova won her 11th consecutive match in Stuttgart © Getty Images
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Maria Sharapova overcame Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets on Friday to book a spot in the semi-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and with it maintain her spot among the world's elite.

A mixed start to the season has seen Sharapova slip to No.9 in the rankings and, with 470 points to defend, anything less than a last four finish this week would see the Russian fall out of the top 10 for the first time in more than two years.

Radwanska was no pushover for the double defending champion, who needed eight match points to get past the top seed before eventually winning 6-3 6-4.

Sharapova has now won 11 consecutive matches on Stuttgart's indoor clay.

Radwanska played her best tennis in the penultimate game, when she fought off six match points and finally broke Sharapova's serve.

But Radwanska could not keep the momentum and Sharapova's forehand winner down the line gave her two more match points. Sharapova wasted the first with a wild forehand that was both long and wide, but then nailed a forehand winner to the corner to end the match.

"I think at the start I wasn't being smart at the right times and wasn't constructing the points well on my serve," Sharapova told WTA.com. "But I think the key was that game that I was able to win after being down 0-40.

"She likes moving her opponents around the court and she does that extremely well when she has time. I don't want to find myself running forwards and backwards. I need to look for the opportunities when I have short ball and take advantage of that and not let her get back into the point, which she does so often. That's something that I did really well.

"Obviously it was a very difficult end and she played extremely well on some of those match points. I was happy that I stayed aggressive and I was able to win the last one. It was a really big point obviously. So, yeah it's a big win for me, probably the biggest since my injury."

Sharapova faces Italian eighth seed Sara Errani in the semi-finals after Carla Suarez Navarro was forced to retire in the third set with the score at 6-3 6-7(6) 3-0.

Ninth seed Ana Ivanovic is into the Stuttgart semi-finals for the first time after a 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova - who took the French Open title from her opponent in 2009.

Ivanovic will face Jelena Jankovic in the last four after the fifth seed saw off Alisa Kleybanova 6-4 6-3.

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