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Istanbul Cup
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Russia's Elena Dementieva Wins Istanbul Title

Elena Dementieva of Russia won the Istanbul Cup Saturday after France's Aravane Rezai was forced to retire in the second set because of a knee injury.

The second-seeded Dementieva was ahead, 7-6 (7-5), 3-0, when Rezai retired.

Rezai, who beat fourth-seeded American Venus Williams in the second round and top-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, is bothered by tendonitis in her left knee.

Rezai outplays Sharapova to reach Istanbul Cup final

ISTANBUL: Aravane Rezai beat top-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-4 Friday to reach the final of the Istanbul Cup. The 20-year-old Frenchwoman, who is ranked 62nd, will meet another Russian player, Elena Dementieva, in Saturday’s final of the clay-court French Open warmup. “I am glad that I came here and I played a few matches before Roland Garros, though it is unfortunate to lose in the semi-finals,” Sharapova said.

Sharapova, who served seven double faults, is now looking ahead to doing well at the French Open. “I have all the motivation in the world,” she said. “I have been working very hard in the last weeks.” Rezai, who defeated Venus Williams in the second round, is seeking her first WTA title. “It is the best result of my career this is the fruit of my work,” Rezai said. Earlier Friday, Dementieva beat fifth-seeded Alona Bondarenko 7-6 (5), 6-2. “I’m looking forward to my first final of the year,” the second-seeded Dementieva said. The French Open starts Sunday. ap

SHARAPOVA MADE TO WORK FOR WIN
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Top seed and world number two Maria Sharapova survived a brief scare before securing her place in the semi-finals of the Istanbul Cup.

The Russian looked to be cruising past seventh seed Agnieszka Radwanska before the Pole upset the odds to take the second set.

But Sharapova showed no signs of the shoulder injury that threatened her participation in the tournament as she produced a stunning display in the decider to finally come through 6-2 3-6 6-0.

The 20-year-old will now face unseeded Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai in the last four after she fought back from one set down to defeat America's Meghann Shaughnessy 1-6 6-1 6-4.

Second seed Elena Dementieva also booked her place in the semi-finals after surviving an early scare against unseeded Catalina Castano.

The 25-year-old appears on course for an all-Russian final with Sharapova after disposing of her Colombian opponent 1-6 6-4 6-4.

Dementieva will now face fifth seed Alona Bondarenko after third seed Patty Schnyder had to withdraw from their quarter-final clash with a right thigh strain.

Sharapova progresses
Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva both were pushed to a decisive third set before advancing to the semi-finals of the $200,000 Tier III Istanbul Cup.

The top-seeded Sharapova continued her preparation for the upcoming French Open with a 6-2 3-6 6-0 victory over No. 7 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

So far, Sharapova has yet to break through at Roland Garros, as it is the only Grand Slam that the 20-year-old has yet to reach the semi-finals in.

She did make it to the quarters in 2004-05 before losing in the fourth round to Dinara Safina last year.

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The French Open begins play Sunday.

A finalist at Roland Garros in 2004, the second-seeded Dementieva had to battle back from a slow start to dispatch Catalina Castano of Colombia, 1-6 6-4 6-4.

Dementieva's next opponent will be No. 5 Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine.

The 22-year-old advanced on a walkover, as third-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland was unable to play due to a right quadriceps strain.

In the final quarter-final match, Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai beat an American for the second straight day with a 1-6 6-1 6-4 victory over Meghann Shaughnessy.

Rezai, who reached her first semi-final of the year, upset No. 4 Venus Williams in straight sets on Wednesday.

Rezai has faced Sharapova once before, losing in the second round at the French Open in 2005.

Istanbul Cup, Turkey
Singles - Quarterfinals
1-Maria Sharapova (Russia) bt 7-Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) 6-2 3-6 6-0
2-Elena Dementieva (Russia) bt Catalina Castańo (Columbia) 1-6 6-4 6-4
5-Alona Bondarenko (Ukraine) bt 3-Patty Schnyder (Switzerland) w/o (right quadriceps strain)
Aravane Rezai (France) bt Meghann Shaughnessy (USA) 1-6 6-1 6-4