Miami, 1 April 2011 | AFP

Maria Sharapova rallied to reach the women’s final of the WTA and ATP Masters hardcourt tournament in Miami, while Roger Federer barely worked at all to reach the men’s semis.

Sharapova, seeded 16th, overcame her slow start by winning 11 straight games en route to a 3-6 6-0 6-2 semiinal victory over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.

In Saturday’s final, Sharapova will be seeking her first title since May 2010, and her first in Miami.

She’ll play the winner of Thursday night’s semifinal between third-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva and 2009 Miami champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

Federer spent just 10 minutes on court, winning three games before opponent Gilles Simon retired with a stiff neck.

Federer, seeded third, won 12 of the 15 points against France’s Simon, who talked with a trainer during a changeover before conceding the match and shaking hands with Federer.

Disappointed fans booed as Simon departed the court.

“He told me he woke up this morning with a stiff neck and couldn’t move,” Federer said.

“It’s obviously disappointing when it happens in front of an audience. You get booed off the court – that’s rough. It’s not the way you want to move on, but look, I’ll take those because they happen quite rarely.”

Federer next faces either top-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal or seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych.

Federer beat Nadal for the title here in 2005, the last time they played each other in the United States.

Sharapova, who finished runner-up at Key Biscayne in 2005 and 2006, missed the tournament from 2008-2010 because of injuries.

She got off to a shaky start as she double-faulted three times in dropping her first service game.

But as the match wore on, Sharapova trimmed back her errors and returned Petkovic’s serve aggressively.

Petkovic had 11 game points in the second set but couldn’t convert any of them.