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Sharapova delight as Italian Open glory beckons after tough battle

 

By Robert Jones

Former World No.1 Maria Sharapova reached the Italian Open semi-finals after fighting back to beat reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko yesterday.

Sharapova, 31, won 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 7-5 against the 20-year-old Latvian, taking her third match point to end a gripping contest which lasted over three hours.

Ukraine's fourth seed Elina Svitolina won 6-4 6-4 against Germany's two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, while Anett Kontaveit knocked out Danish second seed Caroline Wozniacki with a 6-3 6-1 victory.

"It's great to be back at this stage," said Sharapova. "My fans have been so loyal throughout the years and for me to be able to produce this kind of tennis again in front of them is very special."

Rafael Nadal continued his clay domination yesterday, rallying from a set down to reach the Italian Open semi-finals with a 4-6 6-1 6-2 victory over Fabio Fognini.

Spaniard Nadal will now face Novak Djokovic in today's semi-final.

Djokovic, in his first quarter-final of the year, defeated Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-1 6-3 in two hours and 21 minutes.

TWO Ulster counties which endured fraught campaigns in the Allianz League hope to chart a path to atonement when the lower-tier All-Ireland Championship series swings into action on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph

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