Tennis

Sharapova sinks French Open winner Ostapenko

Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova stepped up her French Open preparations with a battling 6-7(6/8), 6-4, 7-5 win over reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in the Italian Open quarter-finals on Friday.

Sharapova, 31, will play top seed and world No. 1 Simona Halep in the semis after the Romanian crushed Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-3.

Sharapova produced one of her best performances of the season to overcome her Latvian opponent in a gripping contest lasting three hours and 10 minutes.

Fifth seed Ostapenko saved a set-point before edging the opener in a tie-break but failed to maintain her level in the second as Sharapova forced a decider.

The Russian missed two match-points at 5-3, allowing Ostapenko to draw level after 10 games, but Sharapova was not to be denied as she booked a semi-final spot in Rome for the first time in three years.

“It’s great to back at this stage,” Sharapova said.

“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.”

Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit knocked out world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 to record her second consecutive win over a top-10 opponent.

Kontaveit, who overcame Venus Williams in the last 16, struck 23 winners and broke her Danish opponent’s serve six times to wrap up victory in just over an hour.

The world No. 26 set up a semi-final battle with defending champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who defeated former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4. – REUTERS

Maria SharapovaJelena Ostapenko