The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canada improves to 7-0 in women's curling after wins over Japan and Russia

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SOCHI, Russia - Canada's Jennifer Jones has secured a semifinal berth in the women's curling competition at the Sochi Games.

The Winnipeg skip improved to 7-0 and clinched top spot in the round robin with two wins Saturday. She defeated Japan 8-6 before earning a 5-3 victory over Russia.

The wins guarantee Jones a spot in the tournament's semifinal. No team — men's or women's — has failed to advance after winning six round-robin games since the Olympic tournament expanded to 10 teams in 2002.

"The goal at the start of the week was to make the playoffs," Jones added. "Now we just need to make sure we are as sharp as we can be for the end of the week."

Jones cemented a semifinal berth by downing Russia in the evening draw.

"In a field like this, you can't really expect to go through without a loss," said Jones.

Canada opened with two in the first end, and Japan tied it with two in the second. Jones took the lead with two in the third end, before Japan (2-4) tied it again in the fourth.

Ayumi Ogawara's rink took a 5-4 lead scoring one in the fifth, and after failing to score in the sixth end, Canada took charge with two in the seventh.

In the eighth end, Ogasawara was heavy with her draw to the button and the Canadians stole a crucial point.

"That was big turning point," said Jones, who sustained her high level of play in Sochi with 83 per cent shot accuracy.

"The skip especially played really well," said Canadian lead Dawn McEwen. "They're a very good team and we knew all these games were going to go down to the wire."

Japan scored one more in the ninth end, before Canada added one more.

"It was a battle back and forth," said McEwen. "They played well. We got a steal at the ninth end that was nice."

The race to join the Canadians in the playoffs heated up with Britain beating South Korea 10-8 and China defeating Sweden 7-6.

China, Britain and Sweden are in a three-way tie for second at 4-2. The only other teams likely to stop that trio from qualifying are Russia and Switzerland, both 3-3.

— With files from The Associated Press.

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