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Sharapova in championship form; Routs Cibulkova to reach semifinals

WIMBLEDON, England -- Maria Sharapova's coach called it "a statement."

For exactly one hour of excellence, Sharapova played -- and sounded -- exactly the way she did when she was a teenager, when it seemed nothing could stop her.

Those powerful-as-ever groundstrokes cut through the grass, landing right where she wanted. Those solid-as-ever service returns flummoxed her overmatched opponent. And those loud-as-ever shrieks bounced around Centre Court, its retractable roof shut to keep out the rain.

Simply put, Sharapova dominated 24th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1 Tuesday to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time since 2006 -- back in the days before she needed surgery to repair her right shoulder and dealt with doubts about the future of her career.

"I would have loved for it not to have taken that long, but I'm not complaining. It's the road that you sometimes have to take. It's not always straight; there are a lot of zigzags. A lot of time, you feel like it's a dead end," said Sharapova, who won her first Grand Slam title at age 17 at Wimbledon in 2004.

"I've worked really hard to get in this stage, but I'm not saying this is where I want to end," she added. "I want to keep going."

A day after the Williams sisters and No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki were sent home, the three women responsible for those upsets all lost:

*Cibulkova, who beat Wozniacki, held serve to open her match against Sharapova, then dropped the next eight games.

*No. 9 Marion Bartoli, who beat Serena, faded down the stretch and was defeated 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1 by wild-card entry Sabine Lisicki, the first German woman to reach Wimbledon's semifinals since Steffi Graf in 1999.

*No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova, who beat Venus, was eliminated 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 by No. 8 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, in the semis for the second consecutive year.

On Thursday, Sharapova will meet Lisicki, and Kvitova will face No. 4 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who got to her first Grand Slam semifinal with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over unseeded Tamira Paszek of Austria in the day's last match.

Meanwhile, top-seeded Rafael Nadal, whose foot injury apparently is of no concern, plays 10th-seeded Mardy Fish of the United States in today's quarterfinals.

The other quarterfinals are No. 2 Novak Djokovic against 18-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia, No. 3 Roger Federer against No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, and No. 4 Andy Murray against unseeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain.

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