Sharapova storms into Wimbledon semis
Maria Sharapova stormed into the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time since 2006, blasting aside Dominika Cibulkova with an emphatic 6-1, 6-1 quarter-final victory.
Cibulkova, who had stunned world number one and top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the last 16, never looked like repeating that upset against Sharapova, who is the heavy favourite to repeat her 2004 triumph.
The 6ft 2in Russian fifth seed unleashed a string of thunderous groundstrokes to overwhelm her Slovakian opponent, and now faces German wildcard Sabine Lisicki in the last four for a place in the final.
“It’s an honour to be in the semi-final. It’s a few years since I’ve got past the fourth round so it’s a great chance to take it a step further,” Sharapova said.
“Every opponent is different. I have a tough opponent coming up and I’m looking forward to the match. She’s confident and playing great grass court tennis.” Sharapova, who had not dropped a set en route to the quarter-finals, was quickly into her groove, stretching the 5ft 3in Cibulkova with an array of shots that left the Slovakian flailing.
A superb forehand winner set up Sharapova’s first break in the third game, and with the Russian’s powerful serve functioning smoothly, Cibulkova was always struggling to claw back the initiative.
Sharapova clinched a double break in the fifth game — and a 4-1 lead — when Cibulkova double-faulted at 30-40 down.
After Sharapova held to go 5-1 up, Cibulkova’s frailties on serve were exposed once more when she squandered a 40-0 lead to be broken again, Sharapova clinching the set when her opponent smashed a forehand long.
Cibulkova was soon in trouble in the second set, being broken in her first service after Sharapova unfurled another corking forehand winner to go 2-0 up.
Yet Cibulkova halted what was in danger of becoming a rout in the next game, breaking back immediately to make it 2-1.
But having worked her way back into the match, Cibulkova promptly surrendered the initiative once again, smashing a forehand wide to suffer her fifth consecutive service break and go 3-1 down.
Another break in the sixth game left Sharapova serving for the match, and she duly completed the win when Cibulkova smacked a forehand long.