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August 22, 2009

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Sharapova and Jankovic storm into quarterfinals

RUSSIAN Maria Sharapova and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic waited for a deadly storm to pass before thundering into the Rogers Cup quarterfinals in Toronto on Thursday.

Sharapova, working her way back to form after nine months away with a shoulder surgery, was first onto a center court that hours earlier had been evacuated, booking her spot in the last eight with a 6-2, 7-6 (3) win over compatriot and seventh seed Vera Zvonareva.

With the clock ticking past midnight, fifth seed Jankovic mopped up a wild night battling to a 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Belgian Kim Clijsters, playing just her second event since having a baby and coming out of her two-year retirement.

The start of the evening session was delayed by an hour as the last of severe weather that set off multiple tornadoes within a few kilometers of the Rexall Tennis Center roared across Toronto.

The violent storms forced an evacuation of the stadium with spectators taking shelter in the basement and the VIP lounges.

"I've had a lot of rain delays but probably none because of a tornado," Sharapova told reporters.

"I know there were tornado warnings but I didn't hear much because I was in the players' locker room and we're around cement and that was good."

Sharapova will now play Polish 14th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who advanced with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko.

Jankovic, winner last week in Cincinnati, will take on 36th-ranked Russian Alisa Kleybanova, who beat France's Aravane Rezai 6-3, 6-4. Rezai had stunned world No. 1 Dinara Safina in the second round.

World No. 2 Serena Williams avoided all the nasty weather, racing into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-4 demolition of Alona Bondarenko before the storms hit. The American needed only 64 minutes on a blustery center court to dispose of the world No. 33 and restore a bit of family honor after the Ukrainian's sister Kateryna had knocked out older sibling Venus in the second round.

Back on centre court just 15 hours after a second round victory over Yaroslava Shvedova, the Wimbledon and Australian Open champion charged to a 5-0 lead on her way to taking the opening set.

The American next plays Czech qualifier Lucie Safarova, who progressed with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over China's Zheng Jie.

"I was trying to be perfect and just couldn't get my serve in. I got frustrated," said Williams, who lost three straight games in a momentary second set wobble.

"I get really emotional on the court," she said. "Sometimes I'm really into the game too much, and I've just got to (remain calm). I thought I played pretty well yesterday. I was a little disappointed today after playing so well."

Williams is the highest-seeded player left after No. 1 Dinara Safina lost on Wednesday.

Fourth seed Elena Dementieva of Russia booked her spot in the last eight with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 win over Israel's Shahar Peer.


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