Maria Sharapova needed to reach the semifinals at the 2014 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix to maintain at least a top 10 ranking. Mission accomplished. At first glance, her 6-4 6-3 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska looks like a routine, albeit impressive, victory. Well…impressive, yes. Routine? Not so much. The match started with 7 straight service breaks. So while the score was 4-3 Masha, nobody could really claim control of the match as yet. Sharapova looked stronger and was hitting cleaner, as well as breaking serve easier, but it was anybody’s match until Masha finally held for the first time at 5-3. She would go on to win 5 of the next 6 games to build a 6-4 4-0 lead before finally winning 4 and 3, although it took 8 match points before Sharapova closed Aga out. It was the kind of victory over a top ranked opponent that Masha needed to start getting her season steered back in the right direction. She moves on to face Sara Errani in the semifinals, a rematch of their 2012 Roland Garros final. In the other semifinal, it’s an all-Serbian affair as Ana Ivanovic takes on Jelena Jankovic. Although the top 4 seeds (Radwanska, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber) are gone in Stuttgart prior to the semis, the final four is arguably even stronger save for the absence of Aga. Masha is only seeded 6th due to injury inactivity at the end of 2013 and a bumpy start to 2014. If she’s healthy, she should reascend up the rankings. Masha, Ana and Jelena are all former world #1 ranked players with loyal contingents of fans.
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5 JELENA JANKOVIC (won 6-4 6-3 vs Alisa Kleybanova)
6 MARIA SHARAPOVA (won 6-4 6-3 vs 1 Agnieszka Radwanska)
8 SARA ERRANI (won 6-3 6-7 (6) 3-0 retired vs Carla Suarez Navarro)
9 ANA IVANOVIC (won 6-3 2-6 6-4 vs Svetlana Kuznetsova)