Once again, Serena defeats Sharapova

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Serena Williams extended her winning streak against Maria Sharapova on Friday at Charleston, S.C., advancing to the Family Circle Cup semifinals by defeating the fourth-ranked player in the world, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

Williams has defeated Sharapova four consecutive times since 2005 and is 5-2 overall against her. This was their first meeting on clay.

Williams struggled in the first set, which featured several long games.

She won one game after it went to deuce seven times. In the third set, Sharapova won just four points in the first five games.


“It was an up-and-down match,” said Williams, who is looking for her third tour title this year. “I don’t think I played my best. Actually I played far from my best.”

She said she wasn’t bothered by an ankle she sprained during Thursday’s 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Katarina Srebotnik.

Williams, the world’s ninth-ranked player, will next play Alize Cornet, who defeated 10th-seeded Agnes Szavay, 7-5, 6-4.

Ninth-seeded Vera Zvonareva also advanced to the semifinals, upsetting top-seeded Jelena Jankovic, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.


Zvonareva will play fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva, who defeated seventh-seeded Patty Schnyder, 6-4, 6-4

Top-ranked Roger Federer defeated 146th-ranked Frederico Gil, 6-4, 6-1, in the quarterfinals of the Estoril Open at Oeiras, Portugal.

Federer will next play 104th-ranked Denis Gremelmayr, who defeated Jiri Vanek, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

Second-seeded Nikolay Davydenko defeated seventh-seeded Marc Gicquel, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. He will play Florent Serra, who beat Flavio Cipolla, 6-1, 6-1.

Top-seeded James Blake needed only 67 minutes to defeat Agustin Calleri, 6-4, 6-3, and advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship at Houston.



Ochoa shoots 67, but


is three shots behind

Lorena Ochoa will have to come from behind to win a fourth consecutive tournament. She shot a five-under-par 67 in the second round of the Ginn Open at Reunion, Fla., leaving her three strokes behind leader Yani Tseng.

Tseng moved to 12-under 132 with a course-record 64. Suzann Pettersen (66) was at 10 under, one shot ahead of Ochoa and Minea Blomqvist (66).

Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 66 to move to 10-under 132 and take a one-stroke lead over defending champion Boo Weekley (64) in the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Anthony Kim (67) was alone in third at eight under, with two-time Verizon Heritage winner Stewart Cink (68), Cliff Kresge (66) and Stephen Ames (64) another shot behind.

Defending champion Tom Watson shot an eight-under 63 to take a three-stroke lead over Mark Wiebe and David Eger after the first round of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am at Lutz, Fla.





ready for NBA draft

Memphis All-American guard Chris Douglas-Roberts will make himself available for the NBA draft, the school announced.

Douglas-Roberts led the Tigers with 18.1 points a game as a junior and helped them set an NCAA Division I record with 38 victories. The 6-foot-7 junior was voted Conference USA player of the year.

Cal State Fullerton guard Josh Akognon has also made himself available for the NBA draft. He led the Titans in scoring last season as a junior, averaging 20.2 points per game.

New Oklahoma State Coach Travis Ford will receive $1.3 million a year for seven years in a deal approved in a unanimous vote by the Oklahoma A&M; Board of Regents.



Wagner, Mitts named

to U.S. women’s team

Aly Wagner and Heather Mitts, who are coming off layoffs caused by injuries, were among 25 players selected to play for the U.S. women’s soccer team in upcoming exhibition games.

Mitts underwent surgery last year on an anterior cruciate ligament in a knee, and Wagner was operated on in January to repair a double hernia.

They both won gold medals with the U.S. team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The U.S., preparing for the Beijing Games in August, plays exhibitions April 27 against Australia at Cary, N.C.; May 3 against Australia at Birmingham, Ala.; and May 10 against Canada at Washington.



Charges dropped against

former Penn State player

Rape charges, and all others, were dropped against former Penn State running back Austin Scott.

The decision comes after the state Superior Court ruled that jurors could hear testimony about the alleged victim’s involvement in a separate sexual assault case in 2003. The defendant in that case was acquitted.

The district attorney’s office said it withdrew the charges because there was “no reasonable likelihood” it could meet the burden of proof.

A Washington man was arrested in the triple shooting at a Las Vegas strip club that led to the suspension of Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones.

Las Vegas police said Arvin Kenti Edwards was arrested at the Yakima County Correctional facility, where he was already in custody on unrelated charges.