When rain stopped play here on Tuesday, a hapless Maria Sharapova had lost the first four games of her quarter-final encounter against Marion Bartoli of France, a disadvantage which was unable to prevent the Russian No.3 seed dropping the first set when they resumed yesterday. But, despite enduring severe difficulties on her ball toss throughout this quarter final, the 25-year-old found an extra edge from somewhere to complete a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win in two hours 32 minutes to move into the semi-finals at the US Open for the first time since her victory here in 2006. Fittingly, considering her battle with her serve, the victory was delivered with an ace. Sharapova deserved the plaudits for putting herself out there but for the second match in a row she gave thanks to the intervention of the elements. That is despite the intermittent rain in Queens yesterday morning meaning that on no fewer than four occasions the players were prepared to go on court, only to be hauled off again at the last moment. "We were literally in the hall of the locker room then went back off because it started drizzling," she said. "I must have done 20 different types of warm-up in the gym. I was like 'let's just play tennis'.
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