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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sharapova Survives 35-Degree Duel

APMaria Sharapova letting out a scream of jubilation after defeating compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Tuesday.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- At times she looked like she may melt as the center court temperatures soared. In the end it was Maria Sharapova who put her rival on ice -- barely.

Struggling to fight off exhaustion as the mercury reached 35 degrees Celsius, Wimbledon champion Sharapova beat the heat and Svetlana Kuznetsova to win an all-Russian Australian Open quarterfinal on Tuesday 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

"I need a wheelchair," Sharapova, seeded fourth, said after her 2-hour, 17-minute win over U.S. Open champion Kuznetsova.

"Just mentally, I tried to tough it out. It's so hot. I just tried to block it out and concentrate on what I had to do."

The willowy Sharapova, who is 1.83 meters tall but weighs only 59 kilograms, appeared more shocked than happy after advancing to her first Australian Open semifinal. It was her second straight win over Kuznetsova, who had won the first two matches between the pair.

Sharapova was handed a match point after a double fault by Kuznetsova. But she looked unlikely to capitalize on the error, one of 53 from Kuznetsova, as she scrambled to keep the ball in play before advancing to the last four with a running forehand crosscourt.

Sharapova dropped her racket, put her hands to her mouth, then raised her arms aloft.

She looked to her father and coach, Yury Sharapov, in the stands before slumping into her courtside chair, later describing the match as "one of the toughest of my life."

Asked how much she had left at the finish, Sharapova said it was "just enough to win that match point, that's it."

Sharapova, 17, next faces Serena Williams, who followed the Russian pair onto center court and was a 6-2, 6-2 winner over second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo of France.

Both Sharapova and Kuznetsova sought out the shade at every opportunity between points, and used ice bags at the change of ends as they tried to keep cool. They took a 10-minute break after the second set.

Kuznetsova, seeded fifth, handled the heat better than her rival but not her own racket. She was critical of her sloppy play. In addition to the errors, Kuznetsova was successful with just 46 percent of first serves.

After the first set she said it was "like my body was there, but my mind wasn't there at all."

"I didn't do anything to win this match. I didn't deserve to win because I just didn't fight. In the second and third set, I just went off."

In all, 13 Russians contested the women's draw in Melbourne, with Sharapova the last remaining.