Sharapova through in Madrid, injured Serena out

Fri May 9, 2014 1:11pm EDT
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MADRID (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova fought back to oust China's Li Na 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3 and claim a place in the last four of the Madrid Open on Friday as top seed and defending champion Serena Williams withdrew with a thigh problem.

Russian Sharapova, the eighth seed, showed all her battling qualities on the clay at the futuristic Magic Box arena to edge world number two Li and set up a semi-final clash with third-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska.

"The match was very close, I think it really could have gone her way today," Sharapova, who saved multiple break points at the end of the second and third sets, told a news conference.

"It was just a matter of a few points in the second set," added the former number one, whose place in the top 10 is under threat after a poor start to the season.

"Although I was up a break throughout the third set, you know, she's not going to let go. I didn't win the match until the last point was played."

Sharapova had beaten Li in four of their last five encounters, including twice on clay, and she said experience had helped her through.

"It's a combination of experience and kind of what you teach yourself and the motivation that you find inside of yourself to not get down when you're feeling things aren't going the exact way that you wanted them to," added the 27-year-old.

"I didn't play a great first set and I found a way to get myself in a position to be in the third.

"Then certainly something changed a little bit and I did something different to get myself going and give myself a bit more energy than I had in the first set."   Continued...

Maria Sharapova of Russia returns the ball to Li Na of China during their match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament May 9, 2014. REUTER/Andrea Comas