MIAMI (AFP) - Maria Sharapova rallied to reach the women’s final of the WTA and ATP Masters hardcourt tournament here Thursday, while Roger Federer barely worked at all to get into the men’s semi-finals.
Sharapova, seeded 16th, overcame her slow start by winning 11 straight games en route to a 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 semi-final victory over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.
In Saturday’s final, Sharapova will be seeking her first title since May 2010, and her first in Miami.
“It would mean a lot,” she said. “It’s the biggest tournament I think after the Grand Slams. I look forward to going out there and getting it done.”
She’ll play the winner of Thursday night’s semi-final between third-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva and 2009 Miami champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Federer spent just 10 minutes on court, winning three games before opponent Gilles Simon retired with a stiff neck.
Federer, seeded third, won 12 of the 15 points against France’s Simon, who talked with a trainer during a changeover before conceding the match and shaking hands with Federer.
Disappointed fans booed as Simon departed the court.
“He told me he woke up this morning with a stiff neck and couldn’t move,” Federer said. “It’s obviously disappointing when it happens in front of an audience. You get booed off the court -- that’s rough. It’s not the way you want to move on, but look, I’ll take those because they happen quite rarely.”
Simon said he understood the fans’ frustration -- but it was nothing compared to his own. “The public pays the ticket to see the players,” Simon said. “It’s tough for them to see Roger only 10 minutes. But of course the sadness on the court is me for sure. You have to play 100 percent if you want to have a chance to win. When you play Roger, you have to play more than that.” Federer next faces either top-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal or seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych.
Federer beat Nadal for the title here in 2005, the last time they played each other in the United States.
Sharapova, who finished runner-up here in 2005 and 2006, missed the tournament from 2008-2010 because of injuries. She got off to a shaky start as she double-faulted three times in dropping her first service game.
But as the match wore on, Sharapova trimmed back her errors and returned Petrovic’s serve aggressively.