Maria Sharapova beat Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open for her 500th career match win. She is the eighth active player to reach that milestone - who are the first seven?
WTA Staff

MADRID, Spain - Maria Sharapova recorded her 500th career match win in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday, beating Ana Ivanovic to reach the final of the Premier-level tournament.

Click here to watch highlights, interviews and more video from Madrid, all week!

The No.2-seeded Sharapova had won the pair's last five meetings and this one followed suit as she won a tight first set then rallied from 2-0 down in the second to sweep past the No.16 seed, 64 63.

"In my previous match against her, a couple of weeks ago in Stuttgart, I had a bit of a letdown in the second set," Sharapova said. "After losing that early break in the second set today I remembered that moment and didn't want to let it happen again. I thought I played a pretty good game to get myself back in that second set, a good return game - and overall I'm pretty happy with how I played today."

"It was a lot closer than the score indicates - I had a lot of chances, especially in the first set," Ivanovic said. "I felt I lacked a little bit of energy and accuracy on my shots in the most important moments, and she's such a great player, so you really have to be on top of your game if you want to win against her.

"But I feel I'm getting closer to really challenging these players."

Sharapova is the 36th player to reach 500 career match wins and just the eighth active player to do it, after Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Tamarine Tanasugarn, Nadia Petrova, Francesca Schiavone, Jelena Jankovic and Flavia Pennetta. At age 26, she is also the youngest member of that group.

"That number is pretty significant," Sharapova said. "I'm pretty proud of that."

Sharapova Vs Ivanovic Video: Match Highlights | Sharapova Interview | Ivanovic Interview

Sharapova is now through to her 50th WTA final, going 29-20 in her first 49. But there's a pretty big roadblock in her way, probably the biggest roadblock in her whole career - Serena Williams.

"It's always tough against her," Sharapova said. "I haven't had a win against her in a long time, but the great thing is that I'm really setting myself up in a position where I can try to change that around.

"I thought I really well against her in Miami for the first set and a half - obviously that's not enough, but the goal is to keep that level for the whole match this time and open up my chances, take my opportunities. It's been a while since we played on a clay court, too, and every match is different."

Should Sharapova beat Williams in the final, she would also take No.1 away from the American.

Sharapova has been undergoing somewhat of a shift in surface specialty over the last few years. Whereas her first big breakthroughs came on grass - winning her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2004, a 22-match win streak on the surface through 2005 - her latest breakthroughs have come on clay - completing the Career Grand Slam at the French Open last year, now 21 wins in a row on clay.

"I've definitely improved my game on clay and improved myself physically, and also I think the grass has changed tremendously over the years. The clay has pretty much stayed the same. But it's not like I woke up one day and said, 'I'm just going to get better on clay.' It took many years and many matches and many practices. And mentally as well, just to get myself prepared for long matches and battles."

But it's not like Sharapova hasn't had continued success on grass. "Aside from the Wimbledon final a couple years ago and the silver medal - no biggie," she joked. "It's funny when people say that's not really a great result. But I'll take that any day. Yes, I lost in the fourth round of Wimbledon last year, but two weeks later I came back and got to the finals of the Olympics. That was a great, great week."