Indian Wells, USA, 16 March 2012 | AFP

Ana Ivanovic breezed through in straight sets and Maria Sharapova survived a scare from a fellow Russian as the two former champions reached the Indian Wells tennis semi-finals on Thursday.

Three-time grand slam winner Sharapova, the second seed, battled to a 3-6 7-5 6-2 win over Maria Kirilenko in the women’s quarter-finals of the joint WTA and ATP event in California.

Sharapova will face Ivanovic, who eased past a stricken Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-4 in a rematch of their 2011 quarter-final.

Sharapova had cruised through her first three matches without dropping a set but quickly ran into trouble against Kirilenko, who had won eight of her previous nine three-set matches this year.

“I tried to keep my head up today even though I wasn’t playing my best,” said Sharapova, the 2006 champion.

“Towards the end, I started to play better and move better.”

Sharapova needed three hours and five minutes to dispatch Kirilenko in the first meeting between the two since the opening round of the 2010 Australian Open.

Kirilenko is getting a reputation as the WTA Tour’s ironwoman. This was her third straight three-setter and the second time in the tournament she played a match lasting more than three hours.

But despite breaking the former world No.1 twice in winning the opening set in 43 minutes, Kirilenko was unable to conquer her more-fancied countrywoman.

Ivanovic was delighted to avenge her semi-final loss last year to Bartoli with a straight-sets victory this time around.

“It was a tough match. I served well,” the Serb said.

“We both started well but the eighth game of the second set was important. I just tried to stay low and make her run.”

Bartoli was trailing 2-1 in the second set when she asked for the doctor to come out onto the court.

She was in discomfort for the remainder of the match, bending over and grabbing her stomach between serves. Several players pulled out or retired from matches in Indian Wells complaining of a stomach virus.

“When I went on the court, I was very dizzy and it was very hard for me to catch my breath,” Bartoli said.

“I started to not feel well since last night. When I woke up this morning, I knew I was not in great shape. But I gave it a try on the court.

“The more the match was going on, the worse it was getting for me and I was feeling extremely dizzy on the court and I don’t see very clearly. I got the virus that a lot of players got here.”

Ivanovic has made it to at least the Indian Wells quarter-finals on five occasions, winning the title four years ago.

Bartoli’s exit means last year’s winner Caroline Wozniacki and runner-up are out of the women’s draw.