ACAPULCO, México - Maria Sharapova recovered after a second set hiccup to beat Magdalena Rybarikova and reach the semifinals of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL. If the Russian goes on to win the title, she will pass Serena Williams and become No.1 on the Road To Singapore leaderboard.
Things looked dicey midway through the match for Sharapova - she originally led 6-1, 2-2, seemingly on the way to a routine victory, before Rybarikova won five of the next seven games to take the second set and take a 1-0 lead in the third. But the No.1-seeded Sharapova regrouped just in time, winning six of the next seven games to close the match out in two hours and 13 minutes, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
Sharapova has now made the semifinals or better at 17 of the 19 International-level events she's played in her career, the only pre-semifinal losses coming at Tokyo [Japan Open] in 2002 (losing to Emmanuelle Gagliardi first round) and Auckland in 2011 (losing to Greta Arn in the quarterfinals).
And the bigger stat - if she wins the title here, she will rise to No.1 on the Road To Singapore leaderboard, the year-long journey to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
There was one downside to all of it though - Sharapova felt ill during the match against Rybarikova, and afterwards she felt so ill she wasn't able to make it to her post-match press conference.
"Unfortunately I've had a stomach virus for the past couple of days and during tonight's match it got a lot worse," Sharapova said in a statement to the media. "I could not make it to press tonight as I am trying to do everything to recover for tomorrow and hoping that I will be out on the court."
Sharapova has beaten Garcia in all three of their previous meetings, though one of those meetings was as close as could be - Garcia led 6-3, 4-1 at the 2011 French Open before Sharapova fought back.
The other semifinal features No.5 seed Timea Bacsinszky, who beat Johanna Larsson, 6-3, 6-3, and Bulgarian lucky loser Sesil Karatantcheva, who fought off three match points in the second set - two down 6-5 and one more down 7-6 in the tie-break - to make it past Monica Puig, 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.
Bacsinszky and Karatantcheva will be playing against each other for the first time.