x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pennetta ends Sharapova's scrappy campaign in Los Angeles

The inconsistent Maria Sharapova's run at the Los Angeles Championships came to an end, but not before she went down fighting to the Italian in the semi-finals.

An inconsistent Maria Sharapova's scrappy run at the Los Angeles Championships came to an end, but not before she went down fighting 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to Italy's Flavia Pennetta in the semi-finals. Sharapova is returning from a shoulder surgery, but even the former world No 1 admitted her loss was not due to the six-month lay-off period. Playing her eighth match in 12 days, the three-times grand slam champion Sharapova lacked energy as the match wore on and squandered a 3-1 lead in the third set thanks to a litany of double faults and sloppy errors.

"I didn't feel fresh," said Sharapova, who double-faulted 16 times and had 61 unforced errors compared to 23 from Pennetta. "I was surprised it went to the third and I had my opportunities, but I couldn't close it out." The Russian had struggled against Polish teenager Urzula Radwanska and had to draw on all her experience to get past the quarter-final stage. Taking a cue, Pennetta turned on the aggression and rarely gave away when Sharapova tried to force her off court with big groundstrokes.

"To play against her I have to be very aggressive and in the second set I started to wait for her mistakes and that's why the match changed so much," said Pennetta, who also reached the LA final last year before falling to Dinara Safina. The 10th seed will meet Samantha Stosur in the final after the Australian used her big serve to overwhelm Romanian teenager Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-2. In reaching her first final of the year, Stosur nailed seven aces and won 85 per cent of her first serve points.

Top seed Andy Roddick will face holder Juan Martin Del Potro in the final of the Washington Classic after overcoming a 20-ace barrage to oust fellow American John Isner 6-7, 6-2, 7-5. Del Potro earned a shot at winning his second title of the year by wearing down Chile's Fernando Gonzalez 7-6, 6-3 in the afternoon heat of the other semi-final. Roddick, bidding for his fourth title, managed only nine aces but never lost his serve during the two-and-half hour match against the 80th-ranked Isner.

* Agencies