Wozniacki beats Sharapova to reach quarters

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark elicited a barrel full of errors from former champion Maria Sharapova to post a 6-3 6-4 victory on Monday and advance to the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open.

Wozniacki, runner-up last year to Kim Clijsters, showed poised and patience as she engaged the Russian 14th seed in rallies and waited for mistakes, which came on groundstrokes from both wings and frequently on the Russian's serves.

Sharapova, 23, also slugged her share of winners, belting 32, mostly from her powerful forehand, but she gave more than that away on errors in a hard-fought match that produced great shots and some scintillating exchanges.

Three-time grand slam winner Sharapova, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, committed 36 unforced errors including nine double faults, two of which closed service breaks against her.

"It was a real tough match," the 20-year-old Wozniacki told the Arthur Ashe center court crowd after blowing kisses to the fans and showing off her bright yellow fingernails.

"Maria is a great player so I knew it wasn't going to be easy."

Wozniacki, who had only lost three games in her first three victories, said her ride to the final last year helped her deal with the pressure of facing former world number one Sharapova.

"I got a lot of experience from last year, so it definitely helped me in the match today."

The Dane took the upper hand in the first set in the fourth game when Sharapova, leading 40-30, double-faulted three times in a row to give Wozniacki a 3-1 lead.

Sharapova poured herself into the seventh game, hauling herself back into the set on her sixth break point to make it 4-3.

Perhaps exhausted by the effort, the Russian gave the break right back at love in the next game and Wozniacki clinched the set against the battling Sharapova on her third set point.

The only service break of the second set came in the seventh game when Wozniacki took a 4-3 lead on another double fault from the Russian.

Sharapova, crushing forehands, saved a match point to hold serve at 5-4, but Wozniacki rose up with her first volley winner and followed with a sizzling backhand to close out the match on her serve.

The victory put the 20-year-old Dane into the quarters against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, at 45th the lowest ranked player remaining in the women's draw.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)