The 2012 champion Maria Sharapova reached her third successive final of the French Open where she will face first-time Grand Slam finalist Simona Halep.
It was yet another three-setter and yet again Sharapova’s priceless fighting spirit patched up the wholes in her game. After escaping defeats to Sam Stosur and Garbine Muguruza in the previous two rounds, once again Sharapova had to fight back from losing the first set as her semifinal opponent Eugenie Bouchard broke for the second time at 4-4 on her way to winning the opening set. The seventh-seeded Sharapova started the second set well, with a 2-0 lead, but the 18th-seeded Bouchard came back from 5-2 down to level, helped by Sharapova’s two double faults on set points in the ninth game, before the Russian found her best game to force the decider, recovering from the six double faults she served during the set. In the third set Sharapova converted just two of nine break points, but Bouchard earned none and the victory was Maria’s: 4-6 7-5 6-2.
In the second semifinal, the fourth-seeded Halep who had never been past the second round at Roland Garros won the first set against seed No.28 Andrea Petkovic in less than half and hour and even though the German improved a lot in the second set, she let an early break slip away and Halep was the stronger in the tiebreak for a 6-2 7-6(4) triumph.
Despite her modest history at the French Open, Halep has reached the final without dropping a set, unlike Sharapova. Actually, before today’s match with Petkovic, Halep hadn’t even lost more than four games in a set this fortnight. Will Halep’s graceful and intelligent game manage to down Sharapova at the big stage? Sharapova leads Halep 3-0 in their head-to-head series, having beaten her on clay once and recently – in the final of the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open, 1-6 6-2 6-3. (photos: Jimmie48)
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