Sharapova withdraws, Serena sails into Rome semis
Maria Sharapova expressed her disappointment after illness forced her to withdraw from the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Friday - while Serena Williams clinched a spot in the semi-finals in less than an hour.
The Russian, winner of the Rome event in both 2011 and 2012, was due to face Sara Errani in the quarter-finals of this year's competition - but was forced to pull out hours before the scheduled meeting after feeling ill overnight.
The start of the defence of her French Open, just a week away, may also have affected her decision.
"I'm sorry for having to withdraw from the tournament this morning," Sharapova said on Twitter. "Didn't recover after being sick last week and it got me again last night.
"It really is one of my [favourite] tournaments during the year and I can't wait to be back next year!"
Williams, meanwhile, quickly sealed her place in the semi-finals after the American breezed past Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-0 in 56 minutes.
The world No. 1 is in a rich vein of form as she extended her winning streak to a career-best 22 matches, and eyes a fourth consecutive tournament victory to add to her triumphs in Miami, Charleston and Madrid.
Williams began in her usual devastating way as she sealed four of the first five games. Suarez Navarro had her opportunity to recover from the break down, but Williams closed the door on her opponent and took the opening set.
In the second Suarez Navarro could not live with the 15-time grand slam champion as Williams chalked up another bagel to add to yesterday's effort against Dominika Cibulkova, en route to the last-four.
She will now face qualifier Simona Halep for a place in the final, after the world No. 64 defeated Jelena Jankovic 4-6 6-0 7-5. Halep, just 21 years of age, is yet to win a WTA title.
Third seed Victoria Azarenka overcame Samantha Stosur 6-4 1-6 6-3 to advance through to the semi-final, and will now face Errani for a place in the final.