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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2005, 02:13 GMT 03:13 UK
Sharapova survives marathon test
Maria Sharapova celebrates defeating Nadia Petrova
Top seed Maria Sharapova reached the US Open semi-finals after a 7-5 4-6 6-4 win over fellow Russian Nadia Petrova.

Sharapova endured a topsy-turvy first set as ninth seed Petrova fought back from 4-0 down but she clinched it in 53 minutes, closing out a thrilling rally.

Petrova responded with an immediate break in the second and stayed strong to level an intense match one-set all.

Sharapova broke early in the third only to see Petrova answer at 5-3 but the 18-year-old broke again to triumph.

The former world number one started ruthlessly on Arthur Ashe Court with some rasping groundstrokes.

But the ease of her progress seemed to unnerve Sharapova and she quickly lost momentum.

Petrova came to the net to break at 4-1 before again taking advantage of her opponent's mistakes to get the set back on serve at 4-3.

Sharapova ended her losing run by holding in the ninth game and used her forehand to devastating effect to break for a third time and take a lengthy first set.

I thought it was too easy in the beginning
Maria Sharapova

At the start of the second, the 23-year-old gave her more illustrious rival a taste of her own medicine, delivering some solid strokes to grab an early break.

The dramatic atmosphere heightened when Sharapova argued with the umpire after a stray ball flew on to the court.

The official's refusal to play a let only caused the world number two to attack with renewed resolve.

But Petrova stayed focused and, after staving off several break-points, levelled the match as Sharapova hit wide.

The top seed seized the intiative in the decider by breaking at the first opportunity with a clean forehand down the line.

Sharapova appeared to be cruising to victory but Petrova refused to lie down and broke back at 5-3 with some crunching strokes.

However, she then threw away her hopes with a series of errors to hand Sharapova a break and her first appearance in the last four at Flushing Meadows.

Afterwards the favourite admitted she had endured problems of her own making.

"I thought it was too easy in the beginning," Sharapova said. "I was making winner after winner.

"And then all of a sudden I went out of the stadium. There were so many ups and downs.

"I was serving out for the match and she came out with amazing shots. There was not too much I could do."




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News conference: Maria Sharapova




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