posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 11:46 AM
Crowd favourite Maria Sharapova went one better than last year when she reached the final
of the DFS Classic in Birmingham. The 17-year-old Russian sensation, who made the semi-finals of the pre-Wimbledon tournament at her first attempt 12
months ago, beat second seed Patty Schnyder 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 in a semi-final which lasted just seven minutes short of two hours.
Sharapova, 17, served for the match in the second set but dropped her serve and then lost the tie-break as Schnyder forced a deciding third set. In
Sunday's final Sharapova will play the winner of the all-French semi between 16-year-old Tatiana Golovin and number eight seed Emilie Loit.
Schnyder, the world number 20 from Switzerland was who making her debut at Edgbaston, was outclassed in the first set, which was all over in 25
minutes, but fought back brilliantly to force Sharapova into a third set for the first time this week.
The Florida-based teenager, who had overtaken her opponent in the world rankings after the seedings were announced, produced almost flawless tennis to
take the first set 6-1 and served for the match at 6-5 in the second.
But Sharapova dropped her serve for the first time and played an erratic tie-break in which she never recovered from going 4-0 behind.
Twice Schnyder was sent sprawling after being wrong-footed by the deceptive forehand of the gifted Russian but the 25-year-old left-hander proved a
The Swiss girl saved her best tennis for the important points, saving no fewer than 13 out of 18 break points, but was never able to exert enough
pressure on the Sharapova serve.