• French Open, day 11

Sharapova and Azarenka book semi-final cracker

ESPN staff
June 5, 2013

Maria Sharapova battled back from losing the first set to love to beat Jelena Jankovic and book a French Open semi-final with Victoria Azarenka.

Sharapova was abject in the first set, brilliant in the second and nerveless in the third as she claimed a 0-6 6-4 6-3 win.

Sharapova struggled with her timing early in the opening set and virtually in the blink of an eye Jankovic had raced into a 3-0 lead. The malaise continued and the Russian's opening set was summed up when she threw a forehand wide to ship the opening set 6-0 in 29 minutes.

The crowd on Chatrier were remarkably subdued, due largely to the disappointing play of Sharapova, but they were raised from their slumber as the defending champion broke at the start of the second set on the back of a brilliant lob.

It was a lob that demanded precision timing and it sparked a remarkable turnaround in fortunes as Sharapova suddenly started to find the middle of her racket. She raced into a 3-0 lead and although Jankovic battled back to force her opponent to serve out, Sharapova kept her nerve to level the match.

The final set was in stark contrast to the first two as both players battled for baseline supremacy. Sharapova had a steely look and in the seventh game a brilliant running backhand passing shot set her up for the key break.

Sharapova staved off a break point in the eighth game with some blistering hitting and one game later she wrapped up the meeting with Azarenka.

Maria Sharapova powers down a serve © AP

Azarenka's Grand Slam dreams are still alive as she produced a battling display to see off Maria Kirilenko in their quarter-final.

It was a tight opening set that went to a breaker, but the Australian Open champion took control to power to a 7-6(3) 6-2 win.

A nine-minute opening game that resulted in Azarenka breaking serve set the tone for the first set. Azarenka wrapped up the break with a superbly-crafted point capped by a fine drive volley.

The advantage did not last long as Kirilenko broke straight back, which was one of six breaks of serve in the set.

Kirilenko had the trainer on court mid-way through the set and departed for the locker room for lengthy treatment. Upon the resumption, breaks of serve were traded but in the breaker it was one-way traffic from the moment Azarenka took the opening point.

Kirilenko did not throw in the towel in the second, rather it was Azarenka who upped her game to race through the set and book her place in the last four.

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