LONDON – Maria Sharapova powered to a 6-2, 7-5 win over Belgium’s Kim Clijsters as the Russian world number three booked an Olympic semi-final clash with compatriot Maria Kirilenko.
Sharapova will play 14th seed Kirilenko for a place in the final at Wimbledon after ending Clijsters’ hopes of a medal in her penultimate tournament before retiring for the second and final time after the US Open.
French Open champion Sharapova and former world number one Clijsters have eight Grand Slam titles between them, but both were competing in their first Olympics and they have been relishing every moment of it.
Clijsters had advanced to the quarter-finals without dropping a set, so this was a frustrating way to say farewell to the All England Club, but she could have few complaints after being overpowered by Sharapova on Centre Court.
The 29-year-old made a sloppy start as a double-fault on break point in the opening game gifted Sharapova the lead.
Clijsters broke back to level at 2-2 but Sharapova delivered a ruthless response as she won the next four games, breaking twice, to take the set in stunning style.
When Sharapova landed an early break in the second set, it looked all over for Clijsters.
The Belgian refused to wave the white flag and broke back to level at 3-3, but Sharapova wasn’t in the mood to be subdued and one last break at 5-5 was enough to end Clijsters’s resistence.