Williams out; Myskina, Davenport, Dementieva advance at Acura Classic

Saturday, July 31st 2004, 2:44 pm
By: News On 6

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) _ Maria Sharapova has a Wimbledon championship and much glitz and glamour. Anastasia Myskina is a French Open champion with more experience.

Myskina's savvy paid off in a 7-5, 6-2 victory over the erratic Sharapova in the Acura Classic quarterfinals Friday night that ended Sharapova's 14-match winning streak.

``I'm only 17,'' said Sharapova, who was visibly subdued and appeared near tears. ``When I get to her age, I'll be a lot more experienced player and probably physically stronger. She's been around, she finds a way to win.''

Serena Williams withdrew from the $1.3 million tournament Friday because of swelling in her left knee, the same one she had operated on a year ago that kept her off the WTA Tour for eight months.

In the other quarterfinals, Lindsay Davenport defeated Ai Sugiyama 6-1, 6-3 and Elena Dementieva defeated Amy Frazier 6-2, 6-1 in 62 minutes. She and Davenport will meet in one of Saturday's semifinals at La Costa Resort and Spa, while Myskina faces Vera Zvonareva, who advanced when Williams withdrew.

Sharapova led 5-2 in the first set when the 23-year-old Myskina reeled off five consecutive games to take the set. Twice in the match, Sharapova was broken on double faults.

``I know there's a lot I can learn from mistakes,'' she said.

Myskina broke twice to take a 4-0 lead in the second. Sharapova stayed aggressive throughout the 82-minute match, going for shots down the lines that often missed. Sharapova finally held at 4-1 with a 105-mph ace, then broke Myskina on a forehand error.

But Sharapova double-faulted away her service game and Myskina closed out the match with a forehand winner up the line.

``I'm not perfect. There are times you're going to lose,'' Sharapova said. ``A few points I was getting a little frustrated. Her level of play definitely went up.''

Sharapova won a Wimbledon warmup tournament at Birmingham, then surprised Serena Williams in the All England Club final as part of her winning streak. Myskina improved to 3-0 against Sharapova, with all three wins coming this year.

The Russians clasped hands and traded kisses on each cheek at the net.

``I really respect Maria,'' said Myskina, who was upset about critical comments attributed to her about Sharapova that appeared in Russian media Friday. ``It said I didn't respect her as a tennis player. I think she's a great person.''

Myskina said she would apologize to Sharapova. The two often practice together.

``I watched her game the last couple of days and that helped me,'' Myskina said. ``I knew I had to move her around. I changed pace against her. I knew if I kept fighting in some games she was going to break.''

Davenport just keeps rolling on the hardcourts of her native California, advancing to the semifinals of her third consecutive hardcourt tournament.

Davenport won titles at Stanford and Carson the last two weeks while defeating Serena (once) and Venus Williams (twice) for the first time in four years. Davenport has a 12-match winning streak, her longest in nearly three years.

``I'm really proud of myself that I've been able to come back and be at a top level again,'' said Davenport, who missed chunks of time because of right knee surgery in 2002 and left foot surgery in October.

``I thought playing three (consecutive) weeks was going to be tough, but so far my body has held up great.''

Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament on Tuesday because of a sprained right wrist, an injury she initially sustained last week before her semifinal against Davenport in Carson. Williams has two titles in 12 tournaments this year.

The injury-plagued sisters have been playing more in recent weeks, including entering the same tournaments, in an effort to boost their rankings. Venus has dropped to 10th in the world; Serena is 14th this week.

``It would be premature to underestimate them,'' Davenport said. ``They'll get to the point where they don't want to be losing. I would imagine pretty soon they're going to put a bigger commitment into tennis. I know they're not happy with the way the last few months have gone.''

``It's been a hard 12 months for me, but I'm really on the comeback,'' Serena Williams told the crowd. ``I'm so sorry. I promise to be here next year in the finals.''

Davenport improved to 10-1 in her career against the eighth-seeded Sugiyama, a four-time quarterfinalist in Carlsbad. It was a rematch of 2002, when Davenport also won a straight-sets quarterfinal at the Acura Classic.

Davenport, who lives north of here in Laguna Beach, won the first five games before being broken. She broke Sugiyama in the next game to close out the set. She led 4-1 in the second set before Sugiyama won two straight games. But Davenport broke and then served out the match.