| David Ferrer, in action, on Tuesday |
New York: Maria Sharapova clawed her way out of trouble to beat Marion Bartoli 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday and reach the semi-finals of the US Open for the first time in six years.
The Russian fought back after losing the rain-interrupted first set and opening service game in the second set to win a two and half hour match that began Tuesday afternoon and took 24 hours to complete.
“The rain break gave me a few hours to think about things, I came out flat yesterday and she was playing so tough,” Sharapova said in a courtside interview. “I had a good night's sleep and came back ready to start again.”
World number 11 Bartoli, a Wimbledon finalist five years ago, threatened to pull off the upset when she led 4-0 overnight and wrapped up the first set.
Sharapova, who won the US Open in 2006 and completed her grand slam collection by winning the French Open in June, was initially struggling with her own serve in the blustery conditions at Flushing Meadows.
The world No. 3 dropped serve at the start of the second set when she made three double faults but regained her composure and recovered to force a deciding third set.
The pair traded breaks early in third set before Sharapova, who hit an impressive 44 winners in the match, got the decisive break in the ninth game then served out victory.
She will now play world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in Friday's semi-finals. “It’s so long since I’ve been back to this stage at the US Open,” Sharapova said.“A little bit of luck always helps.”
Meanwhile, rain delays raised the prospect of the season’s last Grand Slam spilling into a third week for a fifth successive year.
Tournament officials were hoping to get the playing schedule back on track after four singles matches were left unfinished on Tuesday because of rain but a morning shower prevented an early start to the action.
An additional seven singles matches, including three unfinished men’s fourth-round encounters, were scheduled to be played Wednesday but the prospects of them being completed were bleak with downpours forecast for the rest of the day and week.
The tournament is due to finish on Sunday but in each of the last four years the men's final was delayed until the Monday due to foul weather, triggering an annual debate and complaints from players and spectators over why the courts are not covered.
The centre courts at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon have retractable roofs while organisers of the French Open have announced plans to cover up their main court.
Earlier this year, the United States Tennis Association said they would begin major renovations at Flushing Meadows but ruled out building a roof because of the enormous cost of covering Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis stadium in the world.
On Tuesday, the fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain beat France's Richard Gasquet 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 in a rain-delayed match that spanned nearly eight hours on Tuesday to reach the quarter finals.
Ferrer withstood two rain delays before completing a straight-set win that took nearly three hours in court time but spanned nearly eight hours to improve his career mark against the 13th-seeded Gasquet to 8-1.
“We almost had to start over two times in the match,” said the 30-year-old Ferrer, a five-time winner on tour this season. “It took a lot of focus.”
It also took a lot of effort in the final game for Ferrer to end the match, clinching his spot in the last eight on his fifth match point when Gasquet sent a backhand long in the fourth-round match in Louis Armstrong Stadium. (Agencies)