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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sharapova Advances to Open Semifinals

APMaria Sharapova waving to the crowd after defeating Nadia Petrova in their quaterfinal match Tuesday in Melbourne.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Maria Sharapova fought her way out of trouble to beat sixth seed Nadia Petrova in an all-Russian quarterfinal at the Australian Open on Tuesday, setting up a semifinal clash with Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Fourth-seeded Sharapova had to dig deep and break her opponent twice to force the opening set to a tie-breaker, then saved two set points before winning a first set that featured six service breaks.

The former Wimbledon champion struggled in an error-strewn second set, but after fending off three break points at 5-4, she closed out the match 7-6, 6-4 in two hours.

"It was definitely not easy. We were breaking each other's serves left and right out there. It was a miracle when someone held serve," Sharapova told a news conference.

"I just tried to hang in there. It's really tough being down two set points. But I gutted it out in the first point, then had an easy second point."

Sharapova, a semifinalist in Melbourne last year, plays Belgian eighth seed Henin-Hardenne in Thursday's semis after the 2004 Australian Open champion beat top seed Lindsay Davenport of the United States 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Petrova said she only had herself to blame for losing.

"I just feel like I simply gave it away," she said.

"I had all the chances in the first set, ... but I must say she fought hard for it.

"There's nothing I can do about it now. I can just go through my mistakes and get my head cleared from all this and just move forward."

Both Russians struggled with their serves and groundstrokes on a windy day at Melbourne Park.

Petrova grabbed the first break but failed to consolidate, and missed her chance to take the first set when she failed to serve it out in the 10th and 12th games.

Sharapova, urged on by her father, Yury, from the stands, opened up a 2-0 lead in the second but also failed to consolidate.

Petrova broke back but dropped her serve again to give Sharapova the gap she needed to clinch the match.

Henin-Hardenne, who spent the end of last season sidelined with a hamstring injury, expects a tough semifinal against Sharapova, who has been bothered by a sore shoulder. "She has confidence and wants to be in the final, so it's going to be a great match," she said.

(Reuters, AP)