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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Undone in Semifinals

APDementyeva returning against Pierce in their U.S. Open semifinal on Friday.
NEW YORK -- Russian teenager Maria Sharapova said she was exhausted by her fightback to force a third set in her loss to Kim Clijsters in Friday's U.S. Open semifinals and must improve her physical conditioning to reach her tennis peak.

"I kind of gave it all I had in the tiebreaker," the top-seeded Russian said after her 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 defeat. "Then in the third, I kind of ran out of gas.

"At that point, it's pretty tough because physically I still have to get a lot better and I have to play these three-setters. The points are going to go on and on and on.

"This is not something that's going to happen overnight. I'm only 18, and this is going to take time. My body is still growing, and I'm still adjusting to my own body."

The 18-year-old Sharapova, who exploded on the tennis scene with her 2004 Wimbledon victory at age 17, will reassume the No. 1 ranking after the U.S. Open. Still, she recognizes the need to get fitter.

"When the points started getting longer and longer, I felt that she had the advantage," Sharapova said of fourth-seeded Belgian Clijsters, 22.

"She was able to execute them well. I did have opportunities, going into the net, and she came up with great shots," added the Russian, who fought off five match points in the last game of the second set to force a tiebreaker.

Asked to describe Clijsters, Sharapova said, "Great athleticism. She moves amazingly, amazingly. That's a big plus in tennis."

Sharapova said her best was yet to come.

"When the time comes, the time's right, then it will happen. It takes a lot of work, and I'm willing to go back on the practice court and in the gym, whatever I need to do, and work hard to win the Grand Slams."

Meanwhile, Sharapova's compatriot Yelena Dementyeva accused Mary Pierce of using unfair tactics in their semifinal on Friday, which the Frenchwoman won in three sets.

Pierce took back-to-back injury timeouts lasting 12 minutes after losing the first set, and as a rattled Dementyeva lost her way, Pierce lifted her game to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

"You can change the game by winning unbelievable points or by changing the rhythm, that's the fair point," Dementyeva said.

"But by taking 12 minutes' timeout, I don't think it was a fair play.

"Do I think she had something [of an injury]? I don't think so. But she could do it by the rules and she did it.

"If that's the only way she can beat me, I mean that's up to her."

Dementyeva had dominated the first set before Pierce called the trainer, and the Russian was forced to wait as the 12th seed had extended treatment, reportedly for injuries to her right thigh and to her back.

When the match resumed, Pierce showed no signs of impaired movement, running down everything and lifting her game to become the first Frenchwoman to reach the U.S. Open final.

Dementyeva said she knew that Pierce would use everything she could to win the match.

"That's the way she wins," the Russian said. "That's the kind of player she is. She's trying to use everything, just to take advantage of some little distraction."

Dementyeva said she would not use such tactics herself.

"I don't need it," she said.

"When I go on court, if I have something, I can tape it before the match.

"I really want to be just a better player, not to put any distraction or these kind of little things to distract the game of my opponent."