Sharapova keeps WTA Miami title quest on track after Errani victory

Sharapova keeps WTA Miami title quest on track after Errani victory

MIAMI - The Associated Press
Sharapova keeps WTA Miami title quest on track after Errani victory

Russian superstar Maria Sharapova beat Italian player Sara Errani 7-5, 7-5. REUTERS photo

Maria Sharapova kept her quest for a first Miami title on track on March 27 with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 quarterfinal 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 WTA and ATP Masters hardcourt tournament 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-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic.

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

The other women’s semifinal will be beween world No. 1 Serena Williams and titleholder Agnieszka Radwanska.

Third-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer led the way into the men’s semis as he rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory over unseeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

Ferrer, winner of two titles already this year at Auckland 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.

Ferrer next faces 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-seeded Haas dispatched 11th-seeded Simon in 64 minutes, never facing a break point.

Sharapova lost to Kim Clijsters in the 2005 Miami final, to Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2006, Victoria Azarenka in 2011 and Radwanska last year.

Not only is she trying to fill that gap on her resume, she’s trying to become just the third woman to win both the prestigious Indian Wells and Miami hardcourt titles in the same year.

Steffi Graf accomplished the feat in 1994 and 1996, and Clijsters did so in 2005.

“I think it’s one of the toughest back to backs of the year,” Sharapova said. “It’s the amount of matches. It’s also the late matches that you’re playing, the recovery.

“Also coming from different coasts. I mean, it’s not just a hop. It’s a five-hour flight.”