Nadal gets better of Karlovic, in semis

Sharapova, Wozniacki seal last-four berths

The top-seeded Spaniard, champion here in 2007 and 2009, ended a tightly balanced match on the showpiece stadium court by winning the third set tiebreak 9-7 when a Karlovic forehand floated long.

Left-hander Nadal had earned his third match point of the night with a sublime inside-out forehand crosscourt winner and the crowd erupted with deafening roars when he converted it moments later to seal victory in two hours, 23 minutes.

He collapsed to the ground in delight and will next meet Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who was gifted a place in the last four when Spaniard Tommy Robredo pulled out of their match earlier in the day with a strained left abductor muscle.

Karlovic, who became the fastest server of all time with a 251 kph (156 mph) blast during his country’s Davis Cup tie against Germany in Zagreb this month, ended the match with a total of 23 aces.

The first set went with serve until Nadal was broken in the 11th game when he ran back after a protracted rally and, on the stretch, hit a forehand lob long.

Karlovic held serve to clinch the set but he was broken in the second and fourth games of the second as the Spaniard began to dominate from the baseline with searing groundstrokes.

Nadal held serve to take the second set 6-1 when a Karlovic forehand service return floated long but the third went into a tiebreak with neither able to break.

The Spaniard raced into a 5-2 lead after pulling off an incredible volleyed drop shot on the stretch but the Croat, helped by a 210 kph ace, fought back to 5-5 before saving match points at 5-6 and 6-7.

Former US Open champion Del Potro earned his place in the last four when former world number five Robredo withdrew before their scheduled quarterfinal.

The Spaniard had been troubled by his injury for a month and he aggravated it in the second set of his 6-1, 6-3 fourth-round victory over American Sam Querrey on Wednesday.

In the remaining two quarterfinals on Friday, three-time champion Roger Federer will take on fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka while world number three Novak Djokovic faces Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Sharapova in semis
Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki reached the semifinals in a markedly different fashion, one surviving a crisis of confidence and the other benefiting from a withdrawal.
Former champion Sharapova battled past China’s Peng Shuai 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 after top-seeded Dane Wozniacki was gifted a place in the last four when her opponent, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, retired because of a hip injury while trailing 3-0.
Russian Sharapova, playing her first tournament in five weeks after suffering a viral infection, appeared to be in cruise control against Peng after sweeping through the first set and going 2-0 up in the second.

However, she then double-faulted seven times and was broken three times in a marathon, mistake-littered second set for the Chinese to level the match. The final set began with four successive breaks of serve before the Russian, regaining form with her crunching forehand, broke Peng in the seventh and ninth games triumph in two hours and 22 minutes.

Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli and Belgian Yanina Wickmayer booked their places in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Bartoli, at 26 the oldest player left in the draw, shrugged off a stomach bug to beat Serb Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 7-6 while Wickmayer, the 23rd seed, upset 10th-seeded Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-3.

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