Maria Sharapova advanced to the US Open semi-finals for the first time since winning the title in 2006, rallying to defeat French 11th seed Marion Bartoli 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Behind 4-0 in the first set when play was halted due to rain on Wednesday (AEST), Sharapova, came out a different player when the match resumed.
The Russian third seed, who improved to 12-0 in three-set matches this year, reached a semi-final against world number one Victoria Azarenka, who beat Sharapova in the Australian Open final, for a berth in the championship match.
Azarenka, the top seed from Belarus who ousted defending champion Samantha Stosur of Australia on Wednesday (AEST), leads the all-time rivalry with Sharapova 5-4, including a 6-3, 6-0 victory in January's Melbourne final.
"Tough challenge," Sharapova said. "She beat me in Australia quite easily and I would love to get my revenge at a Grand Slam."
In the other semi-final Serena Williams will face Sara Errani.
Williams advanced to the last four for the fourth time in five years by defeating Serbian 12th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-3 in 58 minutes.
Three-time champion Williams, a 14-time Grand Slam winner, looks in ominous form as she looks to put make up for her defeat to Samantha Stosur in last year's final.
"It's going to be a good matchup. She is such a fighter. She's so strong and quick," Williams said. "I'm just so happy to be in the semis. It's so cool."
Williams has only dropped 16 games through five matches while blasting a tournament-best 41 aces, including 12 against outmatched Ivanovic, a former world number one won a grand slam title at the 2008 French Open.
"I came out really strong," Williams said. "Playing someone like Ana, the former number one, I knew I had to come out strong and play some amazing tennis."
Errani, the 10th seed, became the first Italian woman in the Open era to reach the US Open semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 20th-seeded compatriot, doubles partner and best friend Roberta Vinci.
Errani lost to Sharapova at this year's French Open final.
"It's always hard to play against a friend and it was strange seeing her on the other side of the net," said Errani.
"I am happy to get to the semi-final. Can I win the title? I will tell you in three or four days."
Olympic runner-up Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam last June by winning the French Open, could not explain her third-set domination this year.
"A little bit of luck always helps," Sharapova said. "You work hard to achieve your goals, get to one-set all, and this is where it matters. You have to put it all on the line. It's not over until the last point."
Sharapova, who improved to 5-0 all-time against Bartoli, admitted the rain break came at a perfect time giving her a chance to regroup.
"That rain break gave me a few hours to think about things. I came out so flat and she was on fire," Sharapova said.
"Bad four games yesterday. The match wasn't over. I had a chance to come out today and see how things go.
"I'm so happy to get through this one," Sharapova said. "It has been so long since I have been to this stage at the US Open."
Bartoli, 27, settled for her first US Open quarter-final, which gave her a trip to the last eight in every Grand Slam event for her career.
Sharapova, seeking her fifth Grand Slam title and second US Open crown six years after the first, also won majors at Wimbledon in 2004 and the 2008 Australian Open.
Bartoli surrendered a service break on a double fault in the first game once play resumed but held serve twice after that to claim the opening set.
After trading early breaks on double faults in the second set, Sharapova broke in the eighth game on a forehand winner and then held to force a third set, finishing off the second with her fifth ace of the match at 109 mph.
A blistering forehand cross-court winner by Sharapova broke Bartoli in the third game but Bartoli broke back to 2-2 on a backhand winner.
Bartoli squandered two break chances in the sixth game while Sharapova came through on her second break point in the ninth game when a Bartoli forehand went long. The Russian held serve to end matters after two hours, 32 minutes.
Errani broke to open her match and again in the seventh game to take the first set after 36 minutes, then powered past her friend into the final four.
Errani, 25, has four wins this year, all on clay, at Acapulco, Barcelona, Budapest, Palermo. They were her first WTA titles since 2008.
Vinci, 29, reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final in her 32nd Grand Slam appearance. She took her seventh career WTA title last month at Dallas in her final US Open tune-up.
AFPTags: sport, tennis, united-states First posted September 06, 2012 06:52:44