x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Maria Sharapova reaches Miami semi-finals with win over Sara Errani

Sharapova set up a semi-final clash with Jelena Jankovic as she looks to overcome a record that has seen her reach the Miami final four times without recording a win.

Maria Sharapova watches a shot from Sara Errani at the Sony Open.
Maria Sharapova watches a shot from Sara Errani at the Sony Open.

Maria Sharapova kept her quest for a first Miami title on track with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 quarter-final triumph over Sara Errani.

The four-time finalist has never won in Miami, and has set her sights on breaking that losing record this year.

"I've been so close to winning," she said. "I would love to win this. I've been coming to this tournament since I was a little kid. It would mean a lot to win it."

Sharapova had her struggles against eighth-seeded Errani, the same woman Sharapova beat in last year's French Open final to complete a career Grand Slam.

Sharapova fired six aces, but also had 14 double faults.

Trailing 4-5 in the second, Sharapova saved three set points to knot the set at 5-5. She then broke Errani in the penultimate game and held serve to end it on a forehand winner after two hours and 29 minutes.

Although she was pleased to wrap it up in two sets, Sharapova said she should have sealed it even sooner after twice going up a break in the second set.

"Of course it's great that I was able to come back, but I felt like I made things much more difficult than they should have been," she said.

Sharapova lost to Kim Clijsters in the 2005 Miami final, to Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2006, Victoria Azarenka in 2011 and Radwanska last year — all in straight sets.

Not only is she trying to fill that gap on her resume, she's trying to become just the third woman to win both the prestigious Indian Wells and Miami hard court titles in the same year.

German great Steffi Graf accomplished the feat in 1994 and 1996, and Clijsters did so in 2005.

"I think it's one of the toughest back to backs of the year," Sharapova said. "It's the amount of matches. It's also the late matches that you're playing, the recovery.

"Also coming from different coasts. I mean, it's not just a hop. It's a five-hour flight."

Sharapova will battle for a place in the final against 22nd-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic, who beat eighth seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 in two and a half hours.

Third-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer led the way into the men's semis as he rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory over unseeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

Ferrer, winner of two titles already this year at Auckland and Buenos Aires, steadied after an erratic first set and eventually cruised through the third to improve to 7-2 against the Austrian left-hander.

"I was a little bit nervous in the first set and part of the second, but I tried to fight every point, to be focused, and I had a good feeling in the end of the second set and of course in the third one," Ferrer said.

Ferrer next faces Germany's giant-killer Tommy Haas, who defeated France's Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-1.

Haas, at 34 the oldest player ranked in the top 50 in the world, showed no sign of a let-down a day after he toppled world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the fourth round. The 15th-seeded Haas dispatched 11th-seeded Simon in 64 minutes, never facing a break point.

"I used my chances right away in the second set and took that momentum," he said. "Again, I played the way I wanted to, using my all-around game and variety. I think I did that pretty well tonight."

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