U.S. Open women's tennis champion Maria Sharapova of Russia has reached the semifinals of the Zurich Open in Switzerland.
The second-seeded Sharapova, playing with foot pain, defeated Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, 6-4, 6-3, to boost her chances of finishing the year atop the world rankings. On Saturday, Sharapova will play Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia, who advanced by defeating Russian Maria Kirilenko, 6-3, 6-2.
The top seed at this event, No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo of France, withdrew Thursday with a shoulder injury, so her scheduled opponent on Friday, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, got a free pass into the semifinals. Hantuchova will face third-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova who was a three-set winner over Martina Hingis of Switzerland (6-1, 1-6, 6-3).
To overtake Mauresmo, Sharapova realistically needs to be champion or runner-up in Zurich, because she will only have next week's tournament in Linz, Austria, before the season-ending WTA Championships in Madrid.
In other tennis news, the men's world No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland has reached the semifinals of the Madrid Masters tournament in Spain. Federer defeated American Robby Ginepri in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6.
Defending champion and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal was unable to win before the home crowd in Spain. Czech Tomas Berdych beat Nadal in two sets, 6-3, 7-6. Nadal has now lost to Berdych the last three times they have met.
In an earlier quarterfinal Friday, David Nalbandian of Argentina was roundly jeered by the Spanish crowd, apparently over his heated words with British opponent Tim Henman, whom he defeated in the previous round.
The fourth-seeded Nalbandian edged Russian Marat Safin in three close sets, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6. The crowd was clearly for Safin, who speaks Spanish, jeering Nalbandian at nearly every opportunity.
Nalbandian will play the top-seeded Federer in Saturday's semifinals.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.