It took two days and required three sets, but No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova was able to advance to the semifinals of the 2012 U.S. Open on Wednesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium with a victory over No. 11 Maria Bartoli, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
This match originally started on Tuesday, with Bartoli leading the first set 4-0, before Mother Nature washed out the competition and delayed everything until Wednesday.
The time off appeared to do Sharapova some good. Despite losing the first set 3-6, the 25-year-old came roaring back with a strong second set to even things up heading into the decisive final set.
Bartoli was able to make things interesting in the final set, actually taking a 4-3 lead, but she could not keep any momentum going. Her lack of reach really played a role in the outcome of this match.
You could really tell in the second set that Sharapova was forcing Bartoli to move all over the place. It was a smart strategic move for her to take, and one that paid huge dividends.
Bartoli also hurt herself after the first set, being unable to convert her first serves. She doesn't have a great serve to begin with, making it easier for Sharapova to set up rallies once she had her back to the wall.
As much as Sharapova struggled early and in the third set, this could be exactly the kind of match she needed, being able to defeat a very good player who brought everything to the court.
Up next for Sharapova will be top-seed Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals on Friday. This will be the fourth time these two have met in 2012, with Azarenka taking two of the first three matches. Sharapova did win their most recent match, a straight-set victory at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in April.