September 5, 2012

Sharapova to face Azarenka in semis (VIDEO)

Maria Sharapova in action during her 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win against Marion Bartoli in their US Open quarter-final. Photograph: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for USTA
The Russian fought back after losing the rain-interrupted first set and opening service game in the second set to win a two-and-a-half-hour match that began on Tuesday afternoon and took 24 hours to complete.

"I tried not to think about it too much," said Sharapova. "It was good to have that period of time just to get a good night's sleep and come back."

Frenchwoman Bartoli, a Wimbledon finalist five years ago seeded 11 in New York, threatened to pull off the upset when she led 4-0 overnight and wrapped up the first set.

Sharapova, who won the US Open in 2006 and completed her Grand Slam collection by winning the French Open in June, was initially struggling with her own serve in blustery conditions at Flushing Meadows.

The world number three dropped serve at the start of the second set when she made three double faults but regained her composure and recovered to force a deciding third set.

The pair traded breaks early in third set before Sharapova, who hit an impressive 44 winners in the match, got the decisive break in the ninth game then served out victory.

Sharapova has not been beaten this year in any match that has gone three sets.

"It's not always a good feeling to come into a match to knowing that you're down 0-4," she said. "It's like you're going to try to win that set, but if you don't you're down 0-1.

"It's so long since I've been back to this stage at the US Open. A little bit of luck always helps."

She will now play world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in Friday's semi-finals.

"She beat me in Australia quite easily and I would love to get my revenge at a Grand Slam," Sharapova said.

Meanwhile, Sara Errani beat her best friend and doubles partner Roberta Vinci 6-2 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the US Open for the first time.

The two Italians, who teamed up to win the French Open doubles title in June, briefly put aside their friendship as they traded blows for a place in the last four.

"It was very difficult match, a quarter-final with your best friend, of course, is difficult," said Errani.

"We know each other very well, we've played together many times so it was strange to see her on the other side of the net.

"Normally, when you walk on the court, we go together, we speak. This was strange."

The diminutive Errani was the favourite to win after making the French Open singles final this year and proved too strong for her countrywoman, landing an impressive 85 per cent of her first serves to wrap up victory in 72 minutes.

Errani had never made it past the third round of the US Open before this year. She will play either Serena Williams or Ana Ivanovic in Friday's semi-finals.

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