Safina, Cibulkova reaches French semis

June 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM
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PARIS, June 2 (UPI) -- No. 1-ranked Dinara Safina won eight of the 10 final games Tuesday and escaped the quarterfinals with a three-set win at the French Open in Paris.

Safina lost just five games in her first four French Open matches this year but ran into trouble right away before getting past ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Azarenka took the first set in 23 minutes on the strength of three service breaks. Safina grabbed a 4-1 lead in the second set only to have Azarenka tie the set at 4-4 -- including a service break when Safina double faulted twice in a row -- before Safina put together the decisive run.

Azarenka managed just one break after that.

Safina advanced to the semifinals against 20th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, who ended the comeback run of Maria Sharapova, 6-0, 6-2. Cibulkova won the first 11 games before Sharapova broke Cibulkova's serve. Sharapova held serve for the first time in the match in the 13th game, but Cibulkova then put the match away.

Sharapova was playing in her second tournament since a lengthy layoff because of a shoulder injury. She won just 15 points on her 39 serves and piled up 27 unforced errors against Cibulkova.

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