SharapovaTennis action is about to reach climax at the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament. Already the women’s semifinal line-up is decided as also the men’s quarterfinalists. Among the eight male contenders left, there are three Australians; Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and James Duckworth. Also making it to the last eight are; Roger Federer, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori, and Martin Klizan. Among women contenders, Russian Maria Sharapova, Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, and Varvara Lepchenko of USA have reached the semifinals. Top seed Roger Federer was nearly pushed into the corner by world no.153, John Millman of Australia. In his quarterfinal match, Federer will face another Australian James Duckworth, who had to save two match points against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen before coming through in a two-hour battle. Duckworth’s compatriot Sam Groth had an even harder battle against Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot, whom the Australian beat in three tough sets after 2½ hours.

Australia’s Sam Groth had created a sensation on January 6, when he defeated Lleyton Hewitt in his first round match. On Thursday, however, he came across a tough customer in Poland’s Lukasz Kubot. After winning the first set, Groth lost the second in the tie-break. The deciding third set also went to the tie break with no players wanting to yield. But Groth, who also reached the quarterfinals in 2014, held his nerve and after 2½ hours on court, he came through 6-4, 6-7, 7-6. For a place in the semifinal, Groth will have to defeat the vastly improved Milos Raonic on Friday. The third seed and world No.8 Raonic brushed aside Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in his second-round match on Thursday. The Canadian sent down 17 aces and never faced a break point in his 6-3 6-4 win. Groth’s compatriot Duckworth also had to toil hard against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen and he was on the verge of exit in the second set as he faced two match points against him. But he showed enormous patience and once he won the tie-break, he cruised through with the score of 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 after two hours and four minutes.

Top seed Roger Federer ran into hard times against a little known Australian John Millman. Ranked 153 in the world, Millman took the first set from Federer and led 3-1 in the second. The world’s no.2 player admitted later that he got lucky. Federer wiped out the deficit in the second set by winning 5 games and conceding just one afterwards. The famous Swiss played much better in the third set before winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a little over 2 hours. Federer is only 3 match wins away from reaching 1000 victories in his career and if wins in Brisbane, it will be his 83rd career trophy. Federer’s quarterfinal opponent is another Australian James Duckworth, for whom it is the first ATP World Tour quarter-final.

World No.11 and fourth seed in Brisbane, Grigor Dimitrov also had a rough time against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy. After the first two sets were shared, Dimitrov saved two match points in a nail-biting third set tiebreak before prevailing 3-6, 6-4, 7-6. The Bulgarian has set up his quarterfinal clash with Slovakian Martin Klizan, who also faced tremendous pressure in his match against Alexandr Dolgopolov. The Ukrainian held six match points against Klizan but somehow the Slovak scraped through 1-6, 7-6, 7-6. The fourth men’s singles quarterfinal will be played between Japanese Kei Nishikori and Australian Bernard Tomic. Both men had a rather easy passage into the round of eight with Tomic defeating fellow Australian T. Kokkinakis 7-6, 6-1 and Nishikori beating American Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-5.

In the women’s singles, top seed Maria Sharapova reached the semifinal after easily beating Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets 6-1, 6-3. Sharapova now faces Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, who shocked the German third seed Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a two-hour battle. Svitolina was a set and a double break down as she trailed 3-0 in the second set and all seemed lost for her. But the Ukrainian staged a remarkable turnaround and beat Kerber 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. In the other women’s singles semifinal, Second-seeded Ana Ivanovic will take on Varvara Lepchenko of the US. The Serb woman was hard pressed as she had a struggle in her 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Ivanovic began with a 0-5 deficit in the first set before she found her rhythm. Ivanovic’s semifinal opponent Lepchenko beat Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 7-5, 7-5.