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Tuesday 12 December 2017

French Open: Sharapova reclaims No 1 spot by surging into final

Nigel Whittaker AT ROLAND GARROS

Maria Sharapova booked her place in her first French Open final and guaranteed she will overtake Victoria Azarenka as world No 1 with a commanding 6-3 6-3 victory over Petra Kvitova yesterday.

In a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final, which Kvitova won, Sharapova was much the better player to make it third time lucky after two semi-final defeats at Roland Garros. The 25-year-old Russian, who last topped the rankings before her shoulder troubles in 2008, will meet surprise finalist Sara Errani in the final tomorrow after the Italian defeated US Open champion Sam Stosur 7-5 1-6 6-3.

Sharapova had won both meetings with Kvitova since Wimbledon, including a semi-final at the Australian Open, and she looked like she meant business from the start.

Her serve has been her one major weakness since her shoulder problems, and the windy conditions provided a real test, but she was rock-solid. The second seed broke in the fifth game and then again to win the set, and in the second set she quickly moved 3-1 ahead.

Kvitova fought back to level with some big groundstrokes but Sharapova simply broke again and she clinched victory with an ace.

Erani is an unlikely finalist -- she had won only one match at Roland Garros prior to this year and had never beaten a top-10 player.

She broke that duck in the quarter-finals against Angelique Kerber and followed it up with a hugely impressive performance yesterday.

Errani edged a tight first set, but it looked like Stosur was making her extra power count when she began the second with a run of five games in a row. However, the Italian, who is also in the women's doubles final, was always the more consistent and in the end Stosur's 48 unforced errors proved decisive. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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