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Maria back in semis
France Tennis French  Heal
Maria Sharapova returns against Andrea Petkovic of Germany in the quarter final match of the French Open tennis tournament in Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Wednesday. - photo by Associated Press

    PARIS — Everything came so quickly for Maria Sharapova at the start of her tennis career. Wimbledon champion at age 17. Ranked No. 1 at 18. Second major title at 19, third at 20.
    Surgery on her right shoulder in October 2008 put a halt to all of that. Getting her game back in order required patience. And with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over 15th-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany on Wednesday, Sharapova reached the French Open semifinals, the first time she's made it that far at any Grand Slam tournament in more than three years.
    "There's no doubt there's tough moments. I don't think without tough moments the good ones would feel so good," the seventh-seeded Sharapova said. "I have certainly put in a lot of work, and I was never hesitant. I always tried to push myself as much as I could."
    The owner of titles from the other three major tournaments, a championship at Roland Garros would make Sharapova the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam.
    In the semifinals Thursday, she'll face No. 6 Li Na of China, who advanced by beating No. 4 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5, 6-2. Li was the runner-up in January at the Australian Open, where she became the first Chinese tennis player to reach a Grand Slam final.
    In the other women's semifinal, No. 5 Francesca Schiavone of Italy, the defending champion, will play No. 11 Marion Bartoli of France. They won quarterfinals Tuesday. Bartoli is only the fourth Frenchwoman in the Open era, which began in 1968, to get this far at Roland Garros.

Andy Murray in good shape
    PARIS (AP) — His ankle is hurting and his next opponent is Rafael Nadal.
    Fourth-seeded Andy Murray reached the French Open semifinals by beating Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-2 Wednesday, but he's not particularly happy with his game before his match against five-time champion Nadal.
    "I'm surprised I'm here, to be honest, because I haven't actually played that well," said Murray, who tore a tendon in his right ankle in the third round. "That's a very good sign for me, because a few months ago I was not playing well and losing badly. I haven't been playing that well. I'm in the semis of a Slam. That's a good sign."
    After reaching the Australian Open final in January, Murray went through a four-match losing streak. But he is now enjoying his best clay-court season, having already reached the semifinals in Monte Carlo and Rome.
    He lost to Nadal in Monte Carlo, but pushed the top-ranked Spaniard to three sets.
    "I think in the buildup to the French I was playing very well, and now I'm going to have to get that level out on Friday and sustain it for a long period to beat Rafa," Murray said. "But I feel I can do it. It's just making sure that on Friday I will play my best tennis.
    "I have to play a very consistent match, and I have to be mentally strong."

Murray already showed his mental resources this week when he came back from two sets and a break down to defeat Viktor Troicki in a fourth-round match that took two days to complete.

Against Chela, Murray said his ankle didn't bother him too much, giving him some confidence before Friday's match against Nadal.

"I've got two days to rest up, recover, and get ready for Rafa, which is always one of the most exciting matches for me on the tour," Murray said. "I'm glad I've got tomorrow off where I can rest and recover. It does make a big difference. Forty-eight hours are enough to recover and calm myself down and take everything in and go from there."

On a windy Court Suzanne Lenglen, Chela broke twice to open a 4-1 lead with a forehand passing shot straight at Murray, who struggled physically and even looked out of breathe after long rallies.

But Murray saved two set points at 5-3, the second with a backhand drop shot. He then broke to level the score at 5-5 with a forehand winner and won five points in a row in the tiebreaker.

"Then I got up in the second (set), sort of maybe lost concentration a little bit, which you can't afford to do against someone like Juan, who has a lot of experience on this surface," Murray said. "Something I definitely won't get away with against Rafa."

Chela said Murray didn't seem diminished at all by his ankle injury.

"If he was really injured, I don't believe he would have been able to run that much," the Argentine said. "We played three hours, and I didn't notice he had any difficulty in running."

Murray is only the second British man in the Open era to reach the French Open semifinals after Tim Henman seven years ago. If he reaches the final, he would be the first Brit in the championship match at Roland Garros since Bunny Austin in 1937.

"Tactically I'm going to have to be very good," Murray said. "So I can definitely win. I just need to play my best."