US Open: Maria Sharapova to face Azarenka in semi-final revenge bid
MARIA SHARAPOVA is hoping to gain revenge for her Australian Open final beating when she meets world No 1 Victoria Azarenka in the US Open semi-finals tomorrow.
The Russian came through a rain-delayed quarter-final clash against Marion Bartoli last night, eventually seeing off the Frenchwoman 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Sharapova won her last meeting with Azarenka in Stuttgart on clay but it is their Melbourne clash, when she won only three games, that will be on the Russian’s mind.
She said: “It’s always tough to lose at that stage of a grand slam. The last time we played I beat her, but before that she got me a couple of times.
“I played a really good match in Germany against her. Obviously I want to take the things I did well there, but that was on clay, this is a different situation.
“She’s been playing great tennis. I haven’t been in the semi-finals since 2006 so this is a great opportunity for the both of us.”
When Sharapova walked off court on Tuesday night she looked anything but certain to reach the semi-finals after losing the first four games to Bartoli.
But the rain helped, as it had when she found herself in a tough spot in her fourth-round match against Nadia Petrova, and she was much more on her game yesterday.
They were delayed again before eventually resuming at 1pm local time, and Sharapova could not prevent 11th seed Bartoli winning the first set.
She fought back well, though, and came through a very tight deciding set to triumph after two hours and 32 minutes.
Sharapova admitted it had been a tough night, saying: “I tried not to think about it too much. It was good to have that period of time just to get a good night’s sleep and come back.
“It’s not a good feeling to come into a match knowing that you’re down 0-4. It was a tough position to be in, but I’m just so thrilled to be in the semis here.”
The result meant Sharapova maintained her brilliant record of winning every three-set match she has played since losing to Flavia Pennetta in the third round here last year.
She made it 12 out of 12 in three-setters this season, and she said: “It’s a great statistic.
“It shows that I enjoy the battle no matter what the score is. The third set, it’s the last set out there, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t put everything out there. That’s kind of how I treat those situations.”
Also through to the semi-finals is tenth seed Sara Errani, who continued her remarkable season by beating best friend and doubles partner Roberta Vinci to reach the last four.
Before this year, Errani had never been beyond the third round in singles at a grand slam in 17 attempts, a feat she has now managed three times.
A quarter-final at the Australian Open was followed by a brilliant run to the final of the French Open, and she will now face either Serena Williams or Ana Ivanovic for a place in another major final.
Vinci has also been having a great season and was playing in her first singles grand slam quarter-final, but she could not match Errani and went down 6-2, 6-4. The tenth seed did not celebrate her win and instead exchanged a long hug with her friend at the net. She said: “It was a very difficult match. A quarter-final with your best friend, of course, is difficult. There is a lot of tension. Also with the rain, we were going out, in, then out, in, out.
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