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Published: 10/23/2004

Sharapova beats Venus, moves to semifinal

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ZURICH - Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova beat former winner Venus Williams 6-3, 6-4 in the Swisscom Challenge quarterfinals yesterday and extended her winning streak to 11 matches.

Fourth-seeded Sharapova will continue her quest to win three successive titles when she meets No. 3 Elena Dementieva in an all-Russian semifinal today.

Sharapova won in Seoul and Tokyo and has dropped only one set in three tournaments.

The seventh-seeded Williams, who won the tournament in 1999, broke Sharapova in the opening game of the match. The 17-year-old broke Williams twice, however, to come back and win the first set.

In the second, Sharapova broke for a 4-3 lead and served for the match at 5-4. Williams had a break point but couldn't convert, and Sharapova finished with two unreturnable serves to clinch the victory in the first meeting between the players.

Dementieva, runner-up at the French Open and U.S. Open, battled past No. 9 Ai Sugiyama 6-1, 5-7, 7-5.

t●MADRID - Andre Agassi assured fans at the Madrid Masters of having at least one more chance to watch him, rallying from a set behind and fighting off six break points early in the second set to knock out the last Spaniard in the field.

Agassi, seeded second, defeated Tommy Robredo 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-2, and will play No. 3 Marat Safin in one of today's semifinals. Safin beat Luis Horna 6-4, 6-4.

Agassi is playing in his first tournament since reaching the U.S. Open quarterfinals on Sept. 9, when he lost to eventual champion Roger Federer in five sets.

After losing the first-set tiebreaker on a double fault, Agassi struggled early in the second set before finally taking command.

In the final set, Agassi broke Robredo's serve for a 1-0 lead and broke again to take a 4-1 lead. He ended the 2 hour, 26 minute match with a rare trip to the net, hitting a forehand volley winner.

t●BRUSSELS - Tennis stars Kim Clijsters and Lleyton Hewitt called off their wedding "for private reasons," according to her Web site.

PITTSBURGH - France's Brian Joubert was ready for a win after a second-place finish earlier this year at the World Championships.

Despite trouble landing several jumps, Joubert got his victory in the men's free skate yesterday at Skate America, finishing with an overall score of 193.46.

American Ryan Jahnke, a surprise bronze medalist at last year's nationals, scored 186.71 for second - another unexpected finish.

Jahnke had finished fourth in the short program and fell twice during the free skate, but he still edged countryman Michael Weiss, who was third (179.56).

Meanwhile, Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto proved 2003 was no fluke, holding the lead in the ice dancing competition through two rounds with a rousing original dance to "New York, New York" that brought the crowd to its feet.

The pair finished the original dance competition with a score of 63.40, and an overall total of 107.11.

Galit Shait and Sergei Sakhnovski of Israel were second, scoring a 60.48 in the original dance and 101.46 overall.

In the women's short program, Miki Ando of Japan skated first, and maintained the lead the entire evening. She was followed by Americans Angela Nikodinov and Alissa Czisny, who was tied for third with Cynthia Phaneuf of Canada.



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