Originally written on Tennis Grand Stand  |  Last updated 11/17/14

TOKYO - OCTOBER 08: Ernests Gulbis of Latvia returns a shot in his match against Juan Monaco of Argentina during day four of the Rakuten Open Tennis tournament at Ariake Colosseum on October 8, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
By Maud Watson Stuttering Finish With many of the world’s top-ranked female stars in attendance, the BNP Paribas Open started off so promising. It’s losing steam as it heads to the finale, however, thanks to a couple of key upsets and unfortunate withdrawals. Kirilenko upset both Aga Radwanska and Kvitova to set up a semifinal clash with Sharapova, which is a matchup the World No. 3 likely prefers with the No. 2 ranking up for grabs should she advance to the final. On the opposite side of the draw, Kerber and Wozniacki find themselves in the semis after both Stosur and Azarenka withdrew with leg and ankle injuries. All four women are accomplished players, but with only one of the top-four-ranked women present in the semis, the tournament no longer possesses quite the same level of excitement. It’s a shame for the tournament organizers, but if one person can take these lemons and turn them into lemonade, it’s Sharapova, who is now the strong favorite to take home the title. Ernests G...
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