Shaza sets up Aza clash
Russian keeps up her winning record over deciding sets
Last Updated: 06/09/12 5:32am
Maria Sharapova: The third seed will face Victoria Azarenka for a place in Saturday's final
Maria Sharapova battled through to the US Open semi-finals and a meeting against Victoria Azarenka after overcoming a spirited Marion Bartoli in three sets.
The third seed overcame the French 11th seed in a match halted on Tuesday by heavy rain to come through 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Arthur Ashe.
The Russian also maintained her remarkable record in deciding sets, having not lost since her third-round loss to Flavia Pennetta at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago, winning 12 out of 12 this season.
She was pushed to the limit by Bartoli, who had led 4-0 when rain forced the match to be postponed on Tuesday, but Sharapova won the first two games on the resumption, which was again twice delayed by more heavy showers.
But Bartoli held on to her advantage from there and served out the set, letting out a loud yell of 'allez' as Sharapova netted a forehand return.
It was the first set Bartoli had won against the Russian in five matches, although this was only their second meeting in five years.
The Olympic runner-up came under severe pressure in the third game of the set but saved four break points, but it was a key moment as she gradually began to take control, breaking again to lead 5-3 with a forehand winner drilled down the line and levelled the match with her fifth ace.
Both players traded early breaks in the decider before the 25-year-old struck a major blow in the ninth game with another break, leaving her serving for a place in the last four.
And she did not falter, keeping alive her hopes of a second grand slam title of the year after completing her career slam at the French Open in June.
Sharapova said: "The rain break gave me a few hours to think about things. I came out so flat yesterday (Tuesday). She's so tough and she was on fire. I'm so happy to get back to the semi-finals."
The four-time Grand Slam winner will next face World No. 1 and reigning Australian Open champion Azarenka for a berth in Saturday's women's final.
The Belarusian leads Sharapova 5-4 in head-to-head meetings although the Russian will be seeking revenge for her defeat Down Under earlier in the year.