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The Early Lead
Posted at 03:46 PM ET, 09/05/2012

U.S. Open: Maria Sharapova storms back to reach first semifinal since 2006


Maria Sharapova completed a stirring comeback to knock out Marion Bartoli and reach her first U.S. Open semifinal since 2006. (Darron Cummings - AP)
Maria Sharapova had plenty of time to contemplate the 0-4 hole she faced in her U.S. Open quarterfinal match with Marion Bartoli.

Tuesday night’s washout and another rainy morning at Flushing Meadows caused a long delay that pushed the conclusion of the match into Wednesday afternoon.

But after dropping the opening set, Sharapova stormed back to take the second and then powered through a tense third to take out 27-year-old Frenchwoman, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Sharapova, who advanced to her third Grand Slam semifinal of the year, will face top-seeded Victoria Azarenka in what is guaranteed to be a shriek-filled semifinal. Azarenka edged defending champion Samantha Stosur in a third-set tiebreaker on Tuesday.

In another quarterfinal, Sara Errani defeated fellow Italian Roberta Vinci, 6-2, 6-4. Errani will face the winner of the night match between Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic in the second semifinal.

“That rain break gave me a few hours to think about things,” Sharapova said in an on-court post-match interview. “I came out a little flat yesterday and she was on fire.”


Marion Bartoli couldn’t stop Sharapova’s rally. (Timothy A. Clary - AFP/Getty Images)
With the win, Sharapova improved to 12-0 in three-set matches this season, a testament to her toughness and mental fortitude.

Despite five semifinal appearances at her last seven majors, Sharapova had not made the U.S. Open semifinals since she won the event in 2006.

Azarenka, who will retain her No. 1 ranking regardless of her result against Sharapova, breezed past the 25-year-old Russian, 6-3, 6-0, to win her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Needless to say, Sharapova hasn’t forgotten that match.

“She beat me in Australia quite easily and I’d love to get my revenge at a Grand Slam,” Sharapova said.

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Scoreboard: Men | Women

By  |  03:46 PM ET, 09/05/2012

 
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