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Sharapova outlasts Ostapenko to set up semifinal against Halep

This content was published 4 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Maria Sharapova survived a thrilling encounter against Jelena Ostapenko to return to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals for the first time since 2015 and set up a last four encounter against Simona Halep.

In a dramatic contest, which lasted three hours 10 minutes, Sharapova and Ostapenko battled it out, riding the waves of momentum in a topsy turvy match which eventually finished 67(6) 64 75 in the Russian’s favour.

Ostapenko began the match under intense pressure as she was extended to a 10 minute, six deuce game. She held on and then repaid the favour, piling on the pressure until she extracted the break and soon found herself 5-2 up.

It looked as if the reigning Roland Garros champion had the set in the bag but careless errors started creeping in and her imposing groundstrokes which had caused so much trouble early on began to go wayward. Sharapova recovered the break and a tiebreak ensued, Ostapenko prevailing to claim the first set.

It was the No. 5 seed who took the lead first in the second set, but it was an advantage that didn’t last long. Sharapova found her range, her forehand started firing and she found herself 4-2 ahead. While Ostapenko rallied to draw level, she offered up a ninth double fault as she served to stay in the set to help the three-time Rome champion to another break and claim the set.

The third set started routinely and went with serve until the sixth game. Sharapova by now had cut down her unforced errors allowing her aggressive tennis to reap rewards. She moved to 5-2 but the match wasn’t over, Ostapenko battled back to 5-5 before the former world No. 1 made one final surge. Holding serve and then unleashing a backhand winner down the line on match point.

“It’s always, you know, nice to have a battle with a few ups and downs and finish strong to get through a match like this against a really high-quality opponent. And to end up winning it, you know, quite proud of the effort,” said Sharapova.

“You know, I didn’t have a great first set. But then, you know, kept going, kept going and made her think a little bit in the second.Again, a few ups and downs in the third. So, yeah, lots to smile about in the end.”

Sharapova will face world No. 1 Halep, who recorded a comfortable 6-2 6-3 victory over No. 7 seed Caroline Garcia in her quarterfinal on Friday evening, in the semifinals on Saturday.

It will be a ninth meeting for the two players and a third on clay. The Romanian ended a run of seven straight losses to the world No. 40 when she claimed victory in their last meeting in Beijing last year.

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