Mary Pierce became a French heroine again on Tuesday when the 30-year-old crushed world number one Lindsay Davenport 6-3 6-2 to reach the French Open semi-finals.

"It's crazy," said Pierce, French Open champion in 2000, after receiving a standing ovation from the Roland Garros crowd. "I have just beaten the world number one in straight sets …I need a bit of time to realise what I have done."

Joining Davenport at the exit was second seed Maria Sharapova who was pounded 6-4 6-2 by Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Pierce will play Elena Likhovtseva for a place in the final after the Russian beat Bulgarian 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva 2-6 6-4 6-4.

In the men's quarter-finals, top seed and world number one Roger Federer swept past Romania's Victor Hanescu 6-2 7-6 6-3 to set up what could be one of the great matches of 2005. The Swiss now faces Rafael Nadal after the 18-year-old crushed fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-5 6-2 6-0.

Wimbledon champion Sharapova stayed with Henin-Hardenne for the first six games but had no answer to the former world number one's weight of shot and folded in the second set. The Belgian faces her third consecutive Russian for a place in Saturday's final after Nadia Petrova stopped the surprise run of 17-year-old Ana Ivanovic 6-2 6-2.

Likhovtseva made heavy weather of Karatantcheva before booking her first grand slam semi-final place in 46 attempts. The 29-year-old resorted to slow, looped groundstrokes to keep the ball in play against an opponent almost half her age.

*Kevin Pietersen has been handed a month-long opportunity to exploit the absence of his rivals and stake his claim for an Ashes Test place after being named in England's one-day squad.

The Hampshire batsman was included in a 14-man squad n Tuesday that will contest England's first ever Twenty20 international against Australia at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, on June 13 and the NatWest Triangular series which follows as he attempts to recapture the form that saw him hit three centuries during the 4-1 series defeat in South Africa last winter.

Those displays put him in contention for a place in England's Test side, which was denied him by the prolific early season form of Ian Bell and the selectors' loyalty to Surrey left-hander Graham Thorpe for the crushing opening Test win over Bangladesh at Lord's.

Those two players were included in the squad again for the second Test at Chester-le-Street, which begins on Friday, but neither were selected in England's plans for a month-long programme of one-day cricket where Pietersen can take advantage of their absence to put pressure on the selectors for the opening Ashes Test at Lord's on July 21. Thorpe has retired from one-day international cricket and Pietersen is preferred to Bell for the shorter version of the game.

Unlike his other rivals - Kent batsman Robert Key included - Pietersen will be centre-stage for a month with a succession of one-day games in the triangular tournament against Bangladesh and Australia and he will hope to be included in another squad, which is yet to be named, for the three-match NatWest Challenge series between the Ashes rivals.

The other interesting inclusion is uncapped Gloucestershire seamer Jon Lewis, who is included in both squads after missing out on the final 11 in the first Test against Bangladesh.

Simon Jones, with only two one-day international appearances to his name, has also been included following his impressive display in the opening Test at Lord's, but Glamorgan team-mate Alex Wharf was ruled out with a side strain although he may return for the Challenge Series against Australia starting at Headingley on July 7.

Meanwhile, English cricket's decision-making process was modernised after proposed reforms were backed at the England and Wales Cricket Board's annual meeting. Unanimous support was given to the streamlining of the management structure at Lord's, with the ECB board to contain 12 members in future rather than 18 while only three committees - cricket, commercial and financial - will continue in the board's articles of association, which effectively means the end of the First Class Forum.

*The Welsh Rugby Union has reacted with fury to a decision by their Irish and Scottish counterparts to cancel the 2005-06 Celtic League season. The Celtic League Association announced the move after a meeting in London on Tuesday where the Welsh announced they had signed an agreement with the Rugby Football Union to compete in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The competition will replace the Powergen Cup, but led to scheduling problems for the Celtic League and drew the ire of their Celtic partners.

As a result, there will be a competition between Irish and Scottish clubs only, leaving Welsh teams with little to do outside of Europe for a significant proportion of the season. Yet the revenues offered by playing English clubs are thought to have made the risk worthwhile for the WRU, whose group chief executive David Moffett said: "The decision by Ireland and Scotland smacks of childishness and I can't understand it. We told them that we had signed up to the Anglo-Welsh Cup, but also that the Celtic League was our most important competition and that we remain totally committed to it."

The Anglo-Welsh Cup will consist of the four Welsh regions and 12 Zurich Premiership sides competing in a group stage with four teams per group. The knock-out stage will begin in March with the final at Twickenham the following month.

There remains optimism on all sides that the Celtic League can be revived for the season after next, with the possible inclusion of Italian clubs, who had been mooted as replacements for the Welsh this season.

Get alerts on Roger Federer when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Comments have not been enabled for this article.