French Open 2013: Maria Sharapova beats Victoria Azarenka to reach final for second year in a row

The defending champion benefited from a rain break at the end of the second set

Maria Sharapova reached her second consecutive French Open final with a 6-1 2-6 6-4 victory over Victoria Azarenka in Paris.

The defending champion benefited from a rain break at the end of the second set when the momentum seemed to be with her opponent.

It was a typically up and down day on serve for the Russian, who hit 12 aces and 11 double faults before clinching victory in two hours and 10 minutes.

Yesterday, Sharapova lost the first set against Jelena Jankovic to love in a flurry of unforced errors, and the omens were not good when two double faults handed the opening game to Azarenka.

But from there the Russian hardly put a foot wrong in the opening set, crashing winner after winner as she reeled off six games in a row, clinching the set with an ace.

Azarenka was the one spraying the ball, particularly off her forehand, but her fighting spirit rivals Sharapova's and she dug in.

At the start of the second set it was still the Russian in control but a tight hold for 2-1 did Azarenka the world of good and she began to settle into the match.

The pair had played 12 times before, with Azarenka leading 7-5, but Sharapova had won both their previous matches on clay.

The second seed has not been entirely convincing this fortnight, though, and her level began to drop as her opponent's rose.

Azarenka broke for 4-2 and then held serve before the weather intervened, play pausing as spectators pulled on coats and put up umbrellas.

The rain was only light and they carried on, but things did not get better for Sharapova, who stopped play because she thought Azarenka's shot was out only for the umpire to decide it was in.

That brought up two set points and, after saving one with an ace, she then gave it away with a double fault.

At that point the rain became heavier and play was suspended for just over half an hour, much to the frustration of Azarenka.

When they returned, Sharapova had regained her composure and the surety of her ball striking, and she broke to lead 2-1 in the decider only for Azarenka to hit straight back thanks to four double faults.

But the Belarusian was always struggling to keep parity and three games in a row for Sharapova left her serving for the match.

Still there was life in Azarenka, though, as Sharapova struggled to find her first serve on four match points and found the ball fired straight back at her.

The Russian's Achilles heel, double faults, came back to haunt her as two in a row gave Azarenka the break before she held to love.

But, with the pressure back on Sharapova as she served for it a second time, the 26-year-old made no mistake, clinching it, somewhat ironically, with an ace.

PA

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain