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Sharapova Survives Bartoli Thriller In QFs

Maria Sharapova fended off a spirited challenge from Marion Bartoli on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Published September 05, 2012 12:00

Sharapova Survives Bartoli Thriller In QFs
Maria Sharapova

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Playing against an inspired opponent who has a history of lifting her game against the biggest names, Maria Sharapova never gave in, rallying from a set down and surviving some tense third set moments to get past Marion Bartoli on Wednesday and return to the semifinals of the US Open.

The two first took the court on Tuesday and it was Bartoli who dominated early, storming out to a 4-0 lead - but Sharapova would get a reprieve as rain started to fall, and eventually play would be suspended, set to resume on Wednesday.

"It was good just to get a good night's sleep and come back," Sharapova said. "I tried not to think about it too much, but it's not always a good feeling to come into a match knowing you're down 0-4. It's like you're going to try to win that set, but if you don't, you're down 0-1. It was a pretty tough position to be in."

Upon resumption Bartoli closed out that first set, 6-3, then broke in the opening game of the second set; but then began a constant fightback from Sharapova, who got the break back right away and eventually took the second set, 6-3. Going into the third set with an 11-0 three set record on the year, and 23-1 since the beginning of 2011, the former World No.1 had to have been confident.

Or maybe another emotion?

"Honestly, every time I've gone into a third set I haven't thought about it because every single match is different," Sharapova commented. "Sometimes you can be coming back, sometimes you win the first set then have a letdown.

"But it's a great statistic. It shows I enjoy the battle no matter what the score is. The third set is last set out there, so there's no reason why you shouldn't leave everything out there on the court. That's how I treat those situations."

The No.3-seeded Sharapova drew first blood in the third set, breaking early for a 2-1 lead; Bartoli broke right back and the two stayed on serve through 4-all, when Sharapova broke again in a tense game, and with a calm final service game finally put the feisty No.11-seeded Frenchwoman away, 36 63 64.

"There's a reason why she reached the quarterfinals," Sharapova said of the World No.11. "Her level of play today and yesterday, it really showed why she was Top 10 and why she's such a high-quality player. There's a lot of good things she did. And I'm happy I pulled through, no matter how tough it was."

Sharapova was asked about Bartoli's unpredictable style. "Unpredictable in a good way," she said. "On the serve as well. She was going for her second serves. She had like 30 serves that were 99 miles per hour second serves. It's like she worked consistently to get 99 miles an hour. Every time I looked at the clock it was like 99, 99. I thought, 'If I lose this match I'll have nightmares.'

"I guess she has that nontraditional game where it's kind of sneaky. But she has worked on it a lot. That's why her game is as good as it is."

Next up for Sharapova is No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka, who toughed out a quarterfinal win over No.5 seed Sam Stosur on Tuesday (read more here).

Azarenka leads Sharapova in their head-to-head series, 5-4. Sharapova won their last meeting but that came on clay - Azarenka leads their hardcourt head-to-head, 4-2, and has won the last four of those in straight sets.

"We both play a pretty aggressive game, we're good competitors and we love to win. I mean, who doesn't?" Sharapova commented. "Last time we played was in Stuttgart, where I beat her, but before that she got me a couple of times. I played a really good match there, and obviously I want to take the things I did well there - but that was on clay, and this is a different situation.

"Every match is new. She's been playing great tennis. I'm in the semifinals for the first time since '06. This is a great opportunity for both of us."

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