Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova beat Venus Williams, 6-3, 6-4, in the Swisscom Challenge quarterfinals yesterday in Zurich to extend her winning streak to 11 matches.
Sharapova, seeded fourth, will continue her quest to win three successive titles today when she meets No. 3 Elena Dementieva in an all-Russian semifinal.
Sharapova won in Seoul and Tokyo and has dropped only one set in three tournaments.
Williams, seeded seventh, broke Sharapova in the opening game of the match. The 17-year-old broke Williams twice, however, to come back and win the first set.
In the second, Sharapova broke for 4-3 and served for the match at 5-4. Williams, who won the tournament in 1999, had a break point but couldn't convert, and Sharapova finished with two un-returnable serves to clinch the victory in the first meeting between the players.
Dementieva, runner-up at the French Open and U.S. Open, battled past No. 9 Ai Sugiyama of Japan, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5.
No. 10 Patty Schnyder -- the 2002 champion -- defeated Argentina's Paola Suarez, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. In the semifinals, Schnyder will face Olympic bronze medallist Alicia Molik of Australia, who easily defeated No. 8 Nadia Petrova of Russia, 6-3, 6-1. . . .
Andre Agassi, seeded second in the Madrid Masters, defeated Tommy Robredo, 6-7 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2, and will play No. 3 Marat Safin of Russia today in a semifinal. Safin beat Peru's Luis Horna, 6-4, 6-4.
Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia and David Nalbandian of Argentina will meet in the other semifinal.
* GYMNASTICS: A U.S. judge involved in the scoring mistake that may have helped Paul Hamm win the all-around gold medal at the Athens Olympics lost his place on a key committee of the sport's world governing body.
George Beckstead was defeated in his bid for reelection to the men's technical committee of the international gymnastics federation, or FIG.
Beckstead oversaw the panel that determined the start value for South Korea's Yang Tae Young in the parallel bars. Yang was wrongly docked a tenth of a point and finished with the bronze medal. Yang appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, claiming he was the rightful gold medalist. But CAS rejected the appeal Thursday.
* SPEEDSKATING: Olympic medalist Jennifer Rodriguez won the 500- and 1,000-meter races at the U.S. long track team competition in West Allis, Wis.
Olympian Joey Cheek won the men's 500 in the first of four days of fall World Cup qualifying to determine who will race in international events this season. Qualifying continues through Monday at the Pettit National Ice Center.
* SOCCER: A Japanese investment bank is exploring ways of blocking a possible takeover of Manchester United by American businessman Malcolm Glazer.
Nomura, Japan's biggest investment bank, said it was working with British investment banker Keith Harris on a financing package for the world's richest soccer club.
Glazer, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has raised his stake in Manchester United PLC to 28.11 percent in the past week.
He is just short of the stake held by major shareholders John Magnier and J.P. McManus.
If Glazer's ownership reaches 30 percent, he is required by British law to make an offer to buy out the remaining stockholders.
-- From News Services