Maria Sharapova moved through to the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open as she came from down a set and a break to defeat fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in three hours and five minutes on Thursday.
The second set lasted one hour and 36 minutes, with both players conceding leads. Kirilenko won the opening two games, Sharapova won the next four, before her opponent drew level at 4-all. Kirilenko cracked in the 12th game, committed two straight double faults to fall behind 0/40, and Sharapova converted on her third opportunity.
The World No. 2 carried the momentum over to the third set, rolling out to a 4-0 lead. Kirilenko recovered one break, but dropped serve again in the final game with a double fault on match point.
"She did start very well, but also it was a poor start from my end," said Sharapova. "I think she controlled most of the points and I was on the defense a lot. That created so many opportunities for her, and she gained so much confidence after that. She took the break in the second, and I was just trying to find my rhythm a little bit on everything, movement and playing wise, and a little by little I started feeling better. Towards the end I really got my groove back, so that was good."
Sharapova advances to the semi-finals here for a fifth time, and will take a 3-2 head-to-head lead into her match against another former World No. 1 and Indian Wells champion, Ana Ivanovic. This will be their first meeting since the 2008 Australian Open final, a match Sharapova won in straight sets.
"We haven't played for a while, and I think we're in both very different stages in our careers," said the Russian. "She's been playing really well this week. It's good to see. We have had tough matches in the past; I'm sure that this one tomorrow will be tough, as well. I enjoy playing against her. She has a big game and big strokes. When she's on, she's really firing from all ends of the court. I'll try to have an eye on that."
The 24-year-old Russian made her sole appearance in the Indian Wells final in 2006, when she triumphed over Russian Elena Dementieva.