Miami: Three-time runner-up Maria Sharapova booked her second straight Miami final on Thursday, rallying for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Caroline Wozniacki -- who was irked by an umpire's overrule on match point.
Sharapova clinched the semi-final victory after two hours, 34 minutes. She led 40-30 in the final game when her second serve was called long -- a call overruled by the chair umpire who said it was on the line and ordered the point replayed.
Wozniacki didn't like it, but was out of challenges, unlike Sharapova who still had a challenge remaining.
Sharapova stepped up to serve again, working her way into position so she could eventually hit an easy forehand smash for the victory.
Wozniacki said it didn't matter that television replays showed the umpire was correct and the ball was in.
"I think when the ball is so close that I think he should give her a chance to challenge at least when I don't have any challenges," Wozniacki said. "She was going to challenge it, anyways. So if it shows it's good, it's good. If it shows it's out, it's out. The ball was so close that it might as well have been out."
Sharapova is now a perfect 4-0 in semi-finals in Miami and beat Wozniacki after losing the last two meetings to her on hardcourts. She will be gunning for her 25th career title.
"I was going to challenge and then he overruled it," Sharapova said. "It is a tough situation to be in because it is close to the end of the match and both of us fought so hard for over two hours and you don't want the match to end like that."
But Sharapova was pleased to have a chance to end a string of bridesmaid finishes in Miami.
The 24-year-old Russian beauty will face either Polish fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Marion Bartoli of France in the final. She lost in the Miami final in 2005, 2006 and last year to Victoria Azarenka.
Sharapova is in her second consecutive tournament final after losing in straight sets to Azarenka at Indian Wells. But Azarenka is out of the picture, having lost in the quarters in straight sets to Bartoli.
"It's always disappointing to lose in the finals, but it's part of the career," Sharapova said of her near-misses in Miami. "I'm happy that I gave myself another chance to go out there and try to change that.
"It would just be meaningful to me because I have come to this tournament for so many years, ever since I was a young girl.
"I have always just dreamt of playing on this court let alone being in the finals of it.
"It would just be really meaningful to me."
Sharapova said, starting when she was about 11 years old, her Florida-based family would make the annual four-hour pilgrimage to Miami where she would marvel at the skills of players like Monica Seles and Russian two-time grand slam champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
"It was pretty much the only tournament I would come to as a spectator, because I drove up from Bradenton four hours with my family and watched Marcelo Rios and Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Monica Seles. We came every year," she said.
The 21-year-old Wozniacki dropped to 13-6 on the year but she equalled her best result of 2012 by making it to the semis. She also made the final four in Dubai.
Sharapova finished with no aces, five double faults but she won 68 percent of her first-serve points.
"I started off the match so well and then I just had a concentration dropped a little bit and she started playing so much better. But I am happy I pulled it through," Sharapova said.
Sharapova broke Wozniacki in the seventh game of the third set to make it 5-2. Trailing 30-40, Wozniacki attempted a forehand drop shot that landed just short giving Sharapova the break and allowing her to serve for the match.
But Wozniacki battled hard on defence in the next game, matching Sharapova's powerful ground strokes to break right back.
Wozniacki then held serve when Sharapova hit a forehand long to cut the lead to 5-4.
"I tried to do my best, and it just wasn't enough today," Wozniacki said. "I was very close. Yeah, you know, this is tennis. One time you win; one time you lose."