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Sharapova crashes out, Safarova into semis

London (AFP): Maria Sharapova suffered more Wimbledon heartache as the French Open champion crashed to a shock 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-4 defeat against Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, while Lucie Safarova stormed into her first Grand Slam semi-final today.

Sharapova famously won Wimbledon aged 17 in 2004, but she has struggled to emulate that feat for much of the last decade and this was another dispiriting experience for the Russian as the ninth seed sealed a stunning Centre Court triumph on her seventh match point.

The world number five arrived at the All England Club fresh from her second Roland Garros title, but she has now failed to make it past the last 16 in seven of her last eight appearances at Wimbledon.

Kerber, who reached the last four in 2012, will face Canadian 13th seed Eugenie Bouchard, a winner against the German in the French Open fourth round recently, on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals.

“Every single set was so close so I’m just happy that I won against Maria. She’s a great player,” said Kerber after her second win in six matches against the Russian.

“I’m so happy to be in the quarters now. I had it before the match in my mind that the last few Grand Slams I lost in the fourth round.

“When I had the three match points in a row and it was deuce, I just tried to focus on myself and say ‘believe in your game’. At the end it worked.”

Sharapova’s exit means four of the top five seeds have been eliminated following the earlier departures of Serena Williams, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, and there is only one former Grand Slam winner, Petra Kvitova, remaining in the women’s draw.

While Sharapova was bowing out, Safarova cruised into her first Grand Slam semi-final as the Czech 23rd seed thrashed Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-1.

Safarova was playing in her first quarter-final at the majors since the 2007 Australian Open and showed no signs of being overawed in a ruthless 57-minute rout of the 22nd seed on Court One.

Safarova will face one of her compatriots in the last four as she is scheduled to meet the winner of Tuesday’s all-Czech quarter-final between Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, and world number 43 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

It will be the first time two Czech women have advanced to the semi-finals at the same Grand Slam since Hana Mandlikova and Helena Sukova at the 1986 French Open.

Earlier on Tuesday, Simona Halep booked her first Wimbledon quarter-final appearance as the Romanian third seed eased to a 6-3, 6-0 victory against Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas.

Halep had never been beyond the second round in her three visits to the All England Club, but the 22-year-old has been in fine form this year, reaching the French Open final last month, and she demolished world number 72 Diyas in just 57 minutes in a fourth round tie delayed from Monday due to bad weather.

The world number three, the highest seed left in the women’s draw, is only the second Romanian woman, after Virginia Ruzici, who is now her manager, in 1978 and 1981, to make it to the last eight at Wimbledon.

Her quarter-final opponent will be Sabine Lisicki after the German 19th seed shrugged off a shoulder injury to defeat Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in another weather-delayed tie.

Lisicki, who broke down in tears during her loss to Marion Bartoli in the Wimbledon final 12 months ago, has now reached the quarter-finals in her last five Wimbledon outings.

Lisicki had called for treatment on her shoulder at break point on her serve in the third game of the final set, sparking claims it was a deliberate tactic to unsettle Shvedova.

But the German said: “As I said before, the timing was very unfortunate.

“The game was going back and forth. I had called already for the trainer and then I played a few more points and I just wasn’t able to do anymore.

“I just couldn’t lift my arm, so I had to do it.”

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