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After 2 a.m. and three hours of fighting, Sharapova through to Istanbul semis

Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska could have fallen asleep before stepping out on the WTA Championships court, waiting for the never-ending match between Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber to finish. Finally, somewhere around 11 p.m. their encounter started and it turned out they had no intention of speeding up the wrap-up of Day 2, playing three 7-5 sets. Final score: 5-7 7-5 7-5 after three hours and 12 minutes, at 2:12 a.m.

The first set went with serve until the twelfth game when Radwanska converted her third break opportunity, the previous two were in the second game, to win 7-5. Sharapova answered right back by taking Radwanska's serve in the very beginning of the second set, but then again it was the Russian who found herself clawing back from 2-4 down. She won three straight games and served for the match, but was broken to love and we had 5-5. However, Sharapova broke her opponent again and this time managed to serve it out. At about ten minutes past 1 a.m., this physical White Group match was going into the third set and Sharapova eventually won it with her seventh ace, even though it was Radwanska who was leading 4-3 and later 5-4 in the final set.

Radwanska was mixing it up, changing the pace and returning every ball, while Sharapova was threatening with fierce groundstrokes and big serves. Sharapova's signature aggression was evidenced in 66 winners to 64 errors, a contrast to Radwanska's 18 winners and 19 errors.

Having won two matches in the round-robin phase, Sharapova is now in the semifinals of the WTA Championships, as well as Serena Williams from the Red Group, whose semifinal berth was ensured when Victoria Azarenka had to play three sets against Angelique Kerber. (photo: Ralf Reinecke)

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