Sharapova edges Wozniacki in Key Biscayne semis

Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a shot to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2012 in Key Biscayne, Florida. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida: A disputed line call on match point meant Maria Sharapova's win over Caroline Wozniacki in the Sony Ericsson Open semifinals on Thursday ended in ill feeling.

Sharapova won the disputed final point after an overrule by the umpire, edging Wozniacki 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

"You don't want it to end that way," Sharapova said.

At 40-30 in the last game, Sharapova hit a second serve that the linesman called long, which would have been a double-fault, but umpire Kader Nouni immediately reversed the ruling and ordered the point replayed. The call couldn't be reviewed because Wozniacki had no challenges left, although TV replays showed Nouni was correct to overrule.

Sharapova was awarded two serves and took advantage with a big first serve to set up an overhead slam for the victory.

Wozniacki, angry about the overrule, declined to shake Nouni's hand and had words with him as she walked to the exit.

"It was a pretty crucial point," she said. "When the ball is so close, he should give her a chance to challenge, at least when I don't have any challenges."

Sharapova said she didn't realize Wozniacki had no challenges left, and added she would have challenged the call herself had it not been overruled.

"It's a tough situation to be in," Sharapova said, "because it's so close to the end of the match, and both of us had fought so hard for over two hours."

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic advanced to the men's semifinals without argument, beating No. 5 David Ferrer 6-2, 7-6 (1). Djokovic lost a remarkable 40-shot rally that had spectators gasping as it progressed, but he played a nearly flawless tiebreaker to seal the victory.

"Coming into this tournament, I was confident," Djokovic said. "And I feel that I am playing better and better as the tournament goes on."

Djokovic seeks his third Key Biscayne title and second in a row. His opponent Friday will be No. 21 Juan Monaco, who advanced on his 28th birthday by eliminating No. 8 Mardy Fish. The scrappy Monaco dominated from the baseline and hit only eight second serves during the 6-1, 6-3 victory.

"This is the way to celebrate my birthday, playing like this," Monaco said. "I feel proud and very happy."

The other men's semifinal will pit Rafael Nadal against Andy Murray.

With the departure of defending champion Victoria Azarenka, the tournament is guaranteed a first-time women's winner. Sharapova's opponent Saturday will be No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, who breezed past No.7 Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-2.

Radwanska's progress toward her first Key Biscayne final was interrupted briefly in the second set by a power outage that caused a delay of 20 minutes. Bartoli hurt her left thigh in the early going and limped through the rest of the match.

Radwanska has not lost to any player this year, bar Victoria Azarenka, whose perfect record for 2012 was ended by Bartoli on Wednesday.

The No. 2-seeded Sharapova improved to 4-0 in Key Biscayne semifinals. She's 0-3 in finals at the event, losing every set.

"I'm happy that I gave myself another chance to go out there and try to change that," said Sharapova, who attended the tournament several times as a fan when she was a youngster training in Florida.

Sharapova will play in her second successive final and third this year. She was runner-up at the Australian Open in January and at Indian Wells two weeks ago.

Wozniacki, a former No. 1 now ranked sixth, fell to 1-7 lifetime against opponents ranked in the top two.

Sharapova was in an attacking mode against the Dane, a relentless retriever whose defense helped her beat Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.

Sharapova went for winners at every opportunity and hit 55, but she also committed 46 unforced errors. Wozniacki totaled only 13 winners and 25 errors.

"Being aggressive is really the key," Sharapova said. "If you let her play many, many balls, she's such a great mover around the court and she can be out here for many hours, and that's not really my game."

She went ahead 5-2 in the final set before Wozniacki staged one last rally, which fell short amid the fuss at the finish.

"Maria started off really well and played aggressively," Wozniacki said. "She played some good tennis out there. I tried to do my best, and it just wasn't enough."





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