Indian Wells, California: Ana Ivanovic breezed through in straight sets and Maria Sharapova survived a scare from a fellow Russian as the two former champions reached the Indian Wells semi-finals on Thursday.
Three time Grand Slam winner Sharapova, the second seed, battled back from an opening-set loss with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Maria Kirilenko in the women's quarter-finals of the joint WTA and ATP event.
Sharapova will face Ivanovic, who eased past a stricken Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-4 in a rematch of their quarter-final contest from last year.
Sharapova had cruised through her first three matches at Indian Wells without dropping a set.
However, she quickly ran into trouble against Kirilenko - who had won eight of her previous nine three-set matches this year.
"I tried to keep my head up today even though I wasn't playing my best," said Sharapova, who won the Indian Wells title in 2006. "Towards the end I started to play better and move better."
Sharapova needed three hours and five minutes to dispatch Kirilenko in the first meeting between the two since the opening round of the 2010 Australian Open.
Kirilenko is getting a reputation as the WTA Tour's iron woman. This was her third straight three setter for Kirilenko and the second time in the tournament she played a match lasting more than three hours.
Kirilenko became the first player in the tournament to take a set off Sharapova, breaking the former world No. 1 twice in winning the opening frame in 43 minutes.
Sharapova held serve in a marathon fifth game of the second set to go up 3-2. She survived several game points including one by hammering a 166 kph (103mph) ace down the middle. It was one of six aces for Sharapova in the match.
Sharapova dropped the first two games of the second set, but then won four in a row to climb back into the match.
Kirilenko had to keep her composure to the win the 10th game of the second set and level the set at 5-5.
With Kirilenko leading 30-15 on her serve, the chair umpire Marija Cicak of Croatia deducted a point from her for tapping her racquet on the ground three times in quick succession while Sharapova was hitting a shot.
Kirilenko approached the umpire for an explanation but didn't argue long and went on to win the next point.
Sharapova broke Kirilenko's serve to win the second set after Kirilenko had saved two set points. Sharapova took a 40-0 lead, but then hit one volley into the net and another long before closing out the set when Kirilenko netted a forehand.
Kirilenko double faulted on the first match point in the third set, her sixth double fault of the match, to gift Sharapova the match.
France's Bartoli reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells last year with a close 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over Ivanovic. Bartoli went on to the final where she lost to Caroline Wozniacki.
"I am definitely happy to be through and get my revenge," Ivanovic said. "It was a tough match. I served well.
"We both started well but the eighth game of the second set was important. I just tried to stay low and make her run."
Bartoli was trailing 1-2 in the second set when she asked for the doctor to come out onto the court.
She was in discomfort for the remainder of the match, bending over and grabbing her stomach between serves. Several players pulled out or retired from matches in Indian Wells complaining of a stomach virus.
"When I went on the court I was very dizzy and it was very hard for me to catch my breath." Bartoli said.
"I started to not feel well since last night. When I woke up this morning I knew I was not in great shape. But I gave it a try on the court.
"The more the match was going on, the worse it was getting for me and I was feeling extremely dizzy on the court and I don't see very clearly. I got the virus that a lot of players got here."
Ivanovic has now made it to at least the Indian Wells quarter-finals on five occasions, winning the title four years ago.
Bartoli's exit means that both last year's winner Wozniacki and runner-up are out of the women's draw.