Some things don't change. Maria Sharapova may be working her way back to the elite section of the WTA, and Serena Williams may be rusty after having to take almost a year off--but last night in Stanford, history ruled. Williams efficiently defeated Sharapova 6-1, 6-3, posting a win over the Russian for the sixth consecutive time. 2nd seed Sharapova had continuous problems with her serve and forehand, and struggled to control rallies.
Williams, who is now 7-2 against Sharapova, will play Sabine Lisicki in the semifinals. In an interview after her quarterfinal match, Williams acknowledged Lisicki's fast, powerful serve, and--referring to her own--noted, "I'm so 2000."
Lisicki hit fourteen aces against Agnieszka Radwanska. The German defeated 5th seed Radwanska 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 in a match whose outcome was hard to predict. Radwanska served for the first set at 5-4 and was broken. At 5-6, she went through eight deuces and saved four set points, but then lost the tiebreak (though she made somewhat of a comeback in that, also). The 5th seed then took the next set from a clearly flustered Lisicki. The German player had trouble getting her first serve in, and--in contrast to her opponent--made a number of unforced errors. The third set was a different story, however, with Lisicki taking control at the very beginning with a break, and raising her level of play enough to stay in control.
Radwanska's surgical game can mean trouble to big hitters like Lisicki, but the Stanford match was not unlike others Radwanska has played. She did the exacting work, but, in the end, was beaten by someone who likes to be in hitting contests. As a fan of Radwanska's, I'd like to see her new (as long as that lasts) coach help her learn to close big matches better. Her service game has improved, which is nice to see.
In other quarterfinal action, 8th seed (and wild card) Dominika Cibulkova easily defeated qualifier Marina Erakovic, 6-1, 6-1, and after just one set of play, 3rd seed and 2009 champion Marion Bartoli was handed a retirement from Ayumi Morita, who injured her right ankle.