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Originally published June 3, 2014 at 9:12 PM | Page modified June 3, 2014 at 9:16 PM

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Maria Sharapova battles her way into French Open semifinals

Maria Sharapova lost the first set 6-1, but rallied to beat Garbine Muguruza and advance to the French Open semifinals.


The Associated Press

PARIS – This is what Maria Sharapova does. She digs herself a big hole in a match, then figures a way out, no matter what it takes.

The Russian hits shots left-handed. Takes her time between points. Pumps her fists and screams “Come on!” after her opponent’s mistakes. And wins.

Sharapova did it in the fourth round at the French Open, turning things around by winning the last nine games. She did it Tuesday, too, reeling off nine of the last 10 games to put together a 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over 35th-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain that put 2012 champion Sharapova in the semifinals at Roland Garros for the fourth consecutive year.

“When you just don’t feel like anything is going your way, you want to try to find a little door to get into,” said the 27-year-old Sharapova, who is seeded seventh. “Once you start feeling, you know, like you got your foot in the door, then it’s a little bit easier.”

After beating one 20-year-old, Sharapova will face another, 18th-seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, who earned a semifinal spot for the second consecutive Grand Slam tournament.

Like Sharapova, Bouchard was not fazed by falling behind in the quarterfinals. Bouchard trailed 5-2 in the first set, and 4-1 in the third, but beat No. 14 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-5.

“I’m just proud of the way I stayed in there,” Bouchard said.

Tuesday’s men’s quarterfinals offered far less intrigue.

No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia kept up his bid to complete a career Grand Slam by muting Milos Raonic’s dangerous serve and defeating the eighth-seeded Canadian 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

Djokovic’s next opponent is No. 18 Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who followed his victory over Roger Federer with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 decision over No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.

Djokovic, 27, and Gulbis, 25, go way back, having overlapped in their early teens at a German tennis academy. Their paths quickly diverged, with Djokovic focusing on tennis and thriving, to the tune of six major titles. Gulbis admits he enjoyed nightlife too much for his game’s good.

Only recently did Gulbis realize he needed to take his job more seriously.

“It’s really important, for my happiness, just to be successful on the tennis court,” Gulbis said. “Forget about the money. Forget about fame. It’s just about my inner comfort. That’s it.”

Djokovic will be playing in his 22nd career major semifinal; Gulbis in his first.

Similarly, Sharapova is headed to her 18th major semifinal, Bouchard her second. Bouchard has tracked Sharapova’s career from afar.

“First I noticed, like, her cute dresses and things like that when I was young,” said Bouchard, who recalled being a spectator at a tournament in Florida as a youngster and posing for a photo with Sharapova.

“She, of course, is very strong mentally. It is one of her strengths, I think.”

For 18 miserable minutes against Muguruza, Sharapova did virtually nothing right. She lost 15 of the first 20 points and fell behind 4-0.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to win,’ ” said Muguruza, who was one game away when up 5-4 in the second set.

Then, serving at 5-all, Muguruza went ahead 30-love.

“Suddenly, I had the impression that it was so easy,” Muguruza said. “Maybe I relaxed a little.”



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