Sharapova rallies to beat Bartoli at U.S. Open

  • Associated Press
  • Wednesday, September 5, 2012 2:44pm
  • SportsSports

NEW YORK — Maria Sharapova came from behind after a rain delay for the second straight match, advancing to the U.S. Open semifinals with a three-set victory over Marion Bartoli.

The four-time Grand Slam champion won 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday, a day after the quarterfinal started.

Sharapova had trailed 4-0 when rain halted play. After more wet weather delayed the restart, she couldn’t erase the deficit in the first set but gritted out the win to improve to 12-0 in three-set matches this year.

“It’s a great statistic. It shows that I enjoy the battle no matter what the score is,” she said. “The third set, it’s the last set out there, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t put everything out there.”

Once they returned to the court Wednesday, Bartoli said, “it was a totally different match.”

“The first time when we start maybe Maria was a bit slower on her footwork,” she said. “She wasn’t serving that well. Obviously coming out again today she was really another player.”

But the 11th-seeded Bartoli, in the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time, wasn’t about to complain about her bad luck.

“I wish I had the power over the sky and say, `No, please, don’t rain,”’ she joked.

In the fourth round Sunday, the third-seeded Russian was down a break in the third set to Nadia Petrova before rallying after an hour-long break. She will face top-ranked Victoria Azarenka, who finished her match Tuesday.

Sharapova broke Bartoli’s serve at 4-4 in the decisive set to put herself in position to serve out the match. The Frenchwoman saved two break points and earned a game point, but Sharapova pressured her into three straight mistakes to go up 5-4.

Sharapova’s 10th ace gave her match point.

Bartoli had never taken a set off Sharapova in four previous meetings.

“To get that far and to get so close, it was really a matter of two or three points here and there,” Bartoli said. “I think overall we were really matching each other very closely. There is nothing I could’ve done better, honestly. … Maybe she got a bit lucky on some defense where she touch the line, and maybe those balls go out it’s a totally different score. But I’ve never been so close to beating her. I really felt like I’m on the right path.”

Half of the other semifinal also is set after Sara Errani beat best friend and doubles partner Roberta Vinci.

The normally feisty Errani didn’t pump her fist or even smile after clinching the 6-2, 6-4 victory. The two embraced at the net afterward, the 10th-seeded Errani looking far more relieved than joyful.

“We know each other very well. We played together many times,” said Errani, this year’s French Open runner-up. “So was also strange to see her on the other side of the net. Normally also when you walk on the court, we go together, we speak.”

Their matchup guaranteed an Italian woman would reach the semifinals in the event for the first time in the Open era, which began in 1968.

Wearing identical pink and black outfits in a mostly empty Louis Armstrong Stadium after rain disrupted the schedule, the two played a subdued match that often felt more like a practice than a Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Errani and Vinci, who won a French Open doubles title this year, have reached the semifinals together here.

“It was definitely a match that was different from any other,” Vinci said. “Without a doubt. It’s never easy to play against a friend, against a doubles partner, against someone you spend every day with.”

Errani will play the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic.

Following Sharapova and Bartoli on Arthur Ashe Stadium was Andy Roddick, trying to postpone retirement against Juan Martin del Potro. The two were in a first-set tiebreaker when rain suspended play Tuesday night.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarterfinals when Stanislas Wawrinka retired while trailing in the third set. Djokovic was leading 6-4, 6-1, 3-1.

Countryman Janko Tipsarevic closed out a victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets in another match spread over two days. The eighth-seeded Serb will make his second straight quarterfinal trip here after beating Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-2. Tipsarevic led 5-2 in the first set when play was suspended.

Tipsarevic will play fourth-seeded David Ferrer, who completed his match Tuesday.

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