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Ivanovic ends Sharapova curse

ESPN staff
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Ivanovic breaks Sharapova curse

An inspired Ana Ivanovic ended her seven-game losing streak against Maria Sharapova with a 6-1 6-4 thrashing of the Russian at the Rome Masters.

Ivanovic came firing out of the blocks, storming through the first set in just 31 minutes before breaking the opening game of the second.

But Sharapova, a two-time winner of this event and champion at the Madrid Open on Sunday, broke straight back and kept it on serve until 4-4 when Ivanovic delivered a huge forehand winner to take the advantage to set up the opportunity to serve out the match.

Sharapova had only lost four of her previous 50 matches on clay - all of which came to Serena Williams - dating back to the French Open in 2011.

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Birthday boy Andy Murray was all smiles during his victory © Getty Images
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"I don't use Madrid as an excuse," she said. "I had a great two weeks and came here to play a tournament. My energy level maybe wasn't at its highest, but Ana played a really great match, coming up with a lot of winners from all over the court, and just really being the better player."

Ivanovic added: "Anytime you lose you talk of revenge. I was dominating the first part of the match. I made good tactics with my coach: I took time away from her and stepped forward when I needed to. And I am really pleased."

Ivanovic will face Carla Suarez Navarro in the last eight after Simona Halep pulled out of the tournament.

"I'm very sad I have to withdraw from the tournament, but it was impossible to continue because of a left abdominal injury," Halep said. "I have great memories from Rome last year when I reached the semi-final.

"I will fly home to Bucharest and I will have treatment every day. I hope the treatment, together with a few days of rest, will allow me to start practice again next week and I hope I will be ready to play Roland Garros."

The withdrawal will not prevent Halep moving to a career-high world No.4 when the rankings are recalculated on Monday.

Serena Williams wasted little time in getting past fellow American Varvara Lepchenko.

The world No.1 dropped just three games as she progressed to the last eight with a 6-1 6-2 victory, which sees her tie sister Venus for most career match wins among active players at 652.

Williams will face Shuai Zhang, who needed almost three hours to see off American qualifier Christina McHale 6-2 4-6 6-2.

Zhang's countrywoman and second seed Li Na made light work of Sam Stosur, an opponent she had never previously beaten, in a 6-3 6-1 victory.

Na controlled the game from the baseline throughout and never allowed Stosur the opportunity to take confidence from her record against the World No.2. Na's next opponent is 10th seed Sara Errani, who edged Czech qualifier Petra Cetkovska 6-4 7-6(3).

Elsewhere, third seed Agnieszka Radwanska dismissed Francesca Shiavone 6-4 6-1. Radwanska will face sixth seed Jelena Jankovic, who needed just an hour and 19 minutes to beat 12th seed Flavia Pennetta 6-2 6-3.

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