Serena relieved to survive, Sharapova through
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova stayed on course for a battle for the world number one slot in the Madrid Open final as they progressed into the last four with wins over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Kaia Kanepi respectively on Friday.
However, current number one Williams was given a huge scare by 30-year-old wildcard Garrigues before battling through 6-3, 0-6, 7-5.
The American hadn't dropped a set all tournament until the Spaniard romped through the second set and Williams admitted she had to fight to up her intensity levels heading into the decider.
"I think it was definitely a battle. That's the way to describe it. I obviously didn't do much in the second set, and I think I gave her a lot of confidence to play better," she said.
"I wasn't really there. I wasn't really in it. My feet weren't moving. I don't know what happened.
"To turn it around I got up earlier on the changeover and started doing high knees and just stretching and doing anything to try to get my intensity back up where it needed to be."
In an uncharacteristically wild performance, Williams racked up nearly 50 unforced errors throughout the nearly two and a quarter hours of play, and she is determined to start afresh when she faces either Sara Errani or Ekaterina Makarova in the semi-finals on Saturday.
"I definitely want to cut back on my unforced errors. I had a lot of unforced errors today.
"Also, I went for a lot more today than I have been in my past few matches so I think I'm going to go back to the way I have been playing and being more calm and not making as many errors as I did today.
"The fact is I was able to get through it. Tomorrow I start out at 0-0, so it's important for me to let it go and just play a new match tomorrow."
There were far fewer problems for Sharapova as she did continue her run of not losing a set so far in the Spanish capital with a comfortable 6-2, 6-4 win over World No.51 Kanepi.
The Russian was supreme on serve all afternoon as she only had to save on break point all match and breaks in the first and fifth games saw her take the first set 6-2.
Kanepi showed more resistence in the second, but the French Open champion broke again at 3-3 to edge ahead and served out with ease to set-up a semi-final meeting with Ana Ivanovic or Angelique Kerber.
"I was just happy to get past the quarter-finals," Sharapova said.
"I feel like I've been stuck in this tournament so it's nice to be in that stage. I felt like I was facing a really good clay court player today. A lot of her success has come on clay.
"I faced her at the French Open where she had really good wins last year, so I know that she's capable and she's playing really well.
"So I was just really determined. I'm happy that I was able to win with that type of scoreline."