Italian Open 2012 Day 6 Results: Maria Sharapova Steps Into Semifinals After Beating Venus Williams

Maria Sharapova has a formula she's following to stay at the top of the women's circuit.

And it's working.

Sharapova continued to defend her Italian Open title on Friday. The world No. 2 defeated Venus Williams, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to the semifinals in Rome. So what's the formula? Playing no more than 17 matches a year. Sharapova believes it gives her the right balance between play and rest.

From the Italian Open:

"I have had a similar schedule since I got on tour it has worked," said the second seed. "I am never a player that has played more than 16 or 17 tournaments a year, whether because I wasn't healthy or not. It isn't the quantity but the quality and so if you can't do a tournament just to get the points. I didn't change my calendar and I kept to the same."

Although Venus is out, little sister Serena is still in the tournament. She will face 2011 French Open champion Li Na in the semifinals of Rome.

As for the men's side, the top three seeds (Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer) all advanced. No. 6 seed David Ferrer also made it to the semifinals. Djokovic will face Federer in the main semifinal showdown,

Nadal, who said in his press conference he played one of his best matches on clay after he beat Tomas Berdych on Friday, will face Ferrer.

From the Italian Open:

"To play David I will run and fight a lot and I have to play better than in Barcelona," suggested Nadal. "I don't stop and its very difficult to play against him because he pushes all the time and I think I can do it. It is normal to lose a set and to lose a set against David is terrible. He is a very high level. I know I have to play my best tennis like today - to the limit and tomorrow is another day and I will do it."

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