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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sharap-ova and out at Edgbaston

AEGON Classic - Day Six

Maria Sharapova crashed out of the AEGON Classic with the former Wimbledon champion suffering a straight-sets defeat to Na Li.

Sharapova had been bidding for a third grass-court title in Birmingham after victories in 2004 and 2005, but was beaten 6-4 6-4 by her Chinese opponent, the fourth seed.

The Russian, who had been unseeded after plunging down the rankings due to a lengthy injury lay-off, conceded six breaks of serve during a match which lasted an hour and 29 minutes.

Li, the highest-ranked player left in the competition, will face Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova in the final after she came from a set down to defeat Sania Mirza of India.

Rybarikova, the 13th seed, was comfortably beaten in the first set but hit back superbly, taking the second to love and running her streak to eight games in a row by building a 2-0 lead in the third.

Mirza brought things back level, but Rybarikova then won 12 of the last 15 points of the match to complete a 3-6 6-0 6-3 victory and reach her first WTA Tour final

A delighted Li said: "My return of serve was so good today. I broke her many times so it did not feel like a grass court match.

"I lost to her so many times before, so I thought if I lose again then I should not worry. That made me very relaxed today."

Sharapova could at least be consoled by her best result since her return from a nine-month injury break after shoulder surgery.

"I wasn't playing with the same intensity today as I did in my previous matches," she said. "Against an opponent like her, the intensity has to be there the whole match. I just wasn't able to come through today."

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