World Cup a bigger lure for men than beauty Sharapova

Maria Sharapova may be one of the world’s most beautiful women, but she knows she cannot compete with England playing in a World Cup.

Maria Sharapova may be one of the world’s most beautiful women, but she knows she cannot compete with England playing in a World Cup.

In beating China’s Na Li 6-2 6-4 to reach the quarter finals of the dfs Classic, it was Sharapova’s 12th consecutive win on the grass at Edgbaston, and the 200th overall in her career.

But with the game on centre court starting just before 4pm, the 19-year-old was aware of a lack of male admirers watching her as the clock ticked down towards England’s clash with Trinidad and Tobago.

“I barely saw any men out there today,” smiled Sharapova. “I think they were all in the pub,” smiled Sharapova.”

Her latest workout on grass was comfortable enough, if not without its problems as she was broken in the fourth game of the first set, although at that stage she held a 3-0 lead after twice breaking Li.

After again breaking her opponent in the opening game of the second set, and then moving into a 3-1 lead, Li managed to level at 4-4.

Sharapova, though, displayed real quality in closing out the set and reaching her new milestone, and will now face 12th seed Mara Santangelo in the last eight tomorrow.

For the 2004 Wimbledon champion, and a woman who already has 11 WTA Tour titles to her name, hitting the 200-win mark does mean a lot to her.

“Playing match after match you don’t focus on your record, but when you do hear statistics like this it is very nice,” commented the two-time reigning champion in this event.

“It seems like I have played so long, but hopefully in a few years that record will be even better. I look forward to achieving more.”

Twelfth seeded Italian Santangelo caused one of the upsets of the day in beating fifth seed Ai Sugiyama 7-6 (7-4) 6-4.

The major upset came with eighth seed and last year’s beaten finalist Jelena Jankovic losing 4-6 6-0 5-7 to unseeded American Jamea Jackson in an epic, rollercoaster encounter.

Jackson won just five points in a one-sided second set, and had to save two break points to deny Jankovic a 5-3 lead before finding her form to clinch a memorable win.

Seventh seed Anna Chakvetadze and 14th seed Sania Mirza were further high-profile casualties, with the former losing to fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-4 6-3.

Indian star Mirza, meanwhile, was forced into a third successive three-set battle, but this time failed to emerge triumphant, with another unseeded American in Meilen Tu winning 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

Second seeded Italian Francesca Schiavone, receiving coaching advice from Martina Navratilova this week, was forced to come from a set down before beating Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 3-6 6-3 6-1.

Marion Bartoli, the sixth seed from France, also had to endure a three-set clash, eventually overcoming 16-year-old Ayumi Morita 6-4 5-7 6-2.

Russia boasts three of the eight quarter finalists as number four seed Elena Likhovtseva beat American doubles specialist Lisa Raymond 7-5 6-4.

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