Paris, France – Former world No. 1s Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka will do battle in the semifinals after both women posted victories Wednesday at the 2013 French Open.
The second-seeded reigning Roland Garros champion Sharapova lost the first set at love on Day 11 before fighting back to beat 18th-seeded fellow former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 0-6, 6-4, 6-3, while the third-seeded Australian Open titlist Azarenka had a slightly easier time of it in her quarterfinal with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory over 12th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko.
Wednesday marked the first victory of Sharapova's career after losing an opening set 6-0, and she's now 42-9 in her career at the French Open, which is best among active women. The Russian had dropped five previous matches after getting bageled in the opening set.
"Obviously it only gets tougher from here," Sharapova said, "but I'm really happy I'm at this stage again."
In addition to Sharapova-Azarenka, Thursday's other semi will pit current world No. 1 superstar Serena Williams against fifth-seeded Italian Sara Errani, who was last year's Roland Garros runner-up to Sharapova.
Sharapova overcame the Serbian Jankovic in just under two hours on Wednesday following a dismal 29-minute opening-set loss on Court Chatrier, while Azarenka outdueled Kirilenko in a grueling 76-minute first set before ultimately closing things out after 1 hour, 51 minutes of tennis on Court Lenglen on the warmest day of the fortnight thus far.
The Russian star Sharapova is now 8-1 lifetime against the former U.S. Open runner-up and three-time French Open semifinalist Jankovic, including 3-0 in Grand Slam action, while Azarenka is now 4-2 all-time versus Kirilenko, including a victory in last year's Olympic bronze medal match in London. Kirilenko has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at a major.
The four-time major winner and career Grand Slam champion Sharapova will appear in her 17th major semifinal (7-9), while the reigning two-time Aussie Open winner and 2012 U.S. Open runner-up Azarenka will appear in her sixth Grand Slam semi (3-2) and first-ever at the French.
The 23-year-old Azarenka is 7-5 lifetime against the 26-year-old Sharapova, including 2-0 in Grand Slam meetings. Sharapova, however, is 2-0 versus Azarenka on red clay. Thursday will mark the first matchup of 2013 between two of the sport's most-notorious grunters.
The other semifinal will see the American great Williams take on Errani. Williams is a perfect 5-0 lifetime against the gritty Italian, including semifinal wins at the U.S. Open last year and Madrid last month.
The 31-year-old Williams is a 15-time Grand Slam singles titlist who is currently riding a career-best 29-match winning streak and a perfect 21-0 on clay this year. She's also 72-3 overall since a stunning first- round loss to Virginie Razzano in last year's French Open, including titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympic Games.
Williams, whose lone French Open title came back in 2002, will appear in her first French semifinal since 2003. She's also the first American woman to reach the French semis since Jennifer Capriati in 2004.
Errani is 1-28 lifetime against top-five competition, with the win coming against fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska on Tuesday.