Fri, Mar 29, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Sharapova keeps quest for first Miami title on track


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

“With all the tournaments I have played, this one I have been so successful at, but yet I haven’t won it,” said Sharapova, a four-time finalist at the Miami Masters, but never the winner.

“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 will battle for a place in the final against 22nd seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.

Former world No. 1 Jankovic defeated Italian Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3.

Jankovic, seeded 22nd, needed two-and-a-half hours to get past Vinci.

Jankovic battled back from a break down in the third set to post her fourth win over Vinci in six career meetings.

The Serbian is in search of a second title this season, after a triumph in Bogota.

The other women’s semi-final was set on Tuesday, with world No. 1 and top seed Serena Williams advancing to take on defending champion and fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

Third seed David Ferrer of Spain led the way into the men’s semi-finals as he rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory over unseeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

Ferrer, the winner of two titles already this year in Auckland, New Zealand, 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 German 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 letdown a day after he toppled world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the fourth round. The 15th seed dispatched the 11th seed in 64 minutes, never facing a break point.

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

Sharapova had her struggles against eighth seed 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 set, 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 2 hours, 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 is trying to become just the third woman to win both the prestigious Indian Wells and Miami titles in the same year.

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

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