Maria Sharapova goes on to semifinals at Wimbledon
Maria Sharapova beat Dominika Cibulkova at Wimbledon, Tuesday, to continue on to the semifinals. Sharapova will face Sabine Lisicki. Thursday.
Maria Sharapova's coach called it "a statement."Skip to next paragraph
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For exactly one hour of excellence, Sharapova played — and sounded — exactly the way she did when she was a teenager, when it seemed nothing could stop her.
Those powerful-as-ever groundstrokes cut through the grass, landing right where she wanted. Those solid-as-ever service returns flummoxed her overmatched opponent. And those loud-as-ever shrieks bounced around Centre Court, its retractable roof shut to keep out the rain.
Simply put, Sharapova dominated 24th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1 Tuesday to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time since 2006 — back in the days before she needed surgery to repair her right shoulder and dealt with doubts about the future of her career.
"I would have loved for it not to have taken that long, but I'm not complaining. It's the road that you sometimes have to take. It's not always straight; there are a lot of zigzags. A lot of time, you feel like it's a dead end," said Sharapova, who won her first Grand Slam title at age 17 at Wimbledon in 2004.
"I've worked really hard to get in this stage, but I'm not saying this is where I want to end," she added. "I want to keep going."
A day after the Williams sisters and No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki were sent home, the three women responsible for those upsets all lost:
— Cibulkova, who beat Wozniacki, held serve to open her match against Sharapova, then dropped the next eight games in a row;
— No. 9 Marion Bartoli, who beat Serena, faded down the stretch and was defeated 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1 by wild-card entry Sabine Lisicki, the first German woman to reach Wimbledon's semifinals since Steffi Graf in 1999;
On Thursday, Sharapova will meet Lisicki, and Kvitova will face No. 4 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who got to her first Grand Slam semifinal with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over unseeded Tamira Paszek of Austria in the day's last match.
"Looking at the rankings, everybody says, 'You should have been already in the semifinals,'" Azarenka said. "It was a great win for me."
Her quarterfinal was suspended because of rain after one game outdoors on Court 1; they eventually were moved indoors at Centre Court.
"I'm glad we managed to play today," said Azarenka, whose highlight was a full-sprint forehand that curled around the net post and landed in for a winner. "Thank God for the roof again. It's just amazing."
A heavy storm during the Lisicki-Bartoli quarterfinal violently pelted the roof, drowning out the normal noises of tennis, including rackets hitting balls, and line judges' calls. During the second game, one particularly loud thunderclap startled Lisicki as she was about to serve. She flinched and stepped off the baseline, then smiled sheepishly.