Serena Williams scrapes through to Madrid semis

Madrid, May 10 (EFE).- American Serena Williams eked out a 6-3, 0-6, 7-5 victory Friday afternoon over Anabel Medina Garrigues to advance to the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open.

The 61st-ranked Medina Garrigues was twice within two points of the biggest win of her career, but the world No. 1 and defending champion of this event came alive in the biggest moments to secure the victory.

The 31-year-old American's level dropped remarkably in the second set. Barely moving to reach the Spaniard's shots in dropping her first set of the tournament in a "bagel," Williams appeared to be suffering from some type of physical ailment.

But she came alive late in the third set to break Medina Garrigues' serve for a 6-5 lead and then finish off the match with a service winner in the next game.

Next up for the American in Saturday's semifinals will be the winner of another quarterfinal match between Russia's Ekaterina Makarova and seventh-seeded Italian Sara Errani.

Makarova pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament thus far by defeating world No. 3 Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the second round.

World No. 2 Maria Sharapova, meanwhile, continued her outstanding run of form on clay courts with a routine 6-2, 6-4 victory Friday over Estonia's Kaia Kanepi.

She will next play either sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber or 16th-seeded Serbian Ana Ivanovic in Saturday's semifinals.

The Russian, who used to struggle on clay, has had a great run of form on the surface dating back to last year.

Sharapova won two Premier-level clay-court events and her first French Open in 2012 and has started strong in this year's clay-court campaign with a victory in Stuttgart last month.

The Mutua Madrid Open is one of the biggest clay-court events on the ATP and WTA calendars and a key tune-up for the French Open, which gets underway later this month.