Maria Sharapova to play surprise finalist Sara Errani in French Open final

 

Maria Sharapova booked her
place in her first French Open final and guaranteed she will overtake
Victoria Azarenka as world number one with a hugely impressive 6-3 6-3
victory over Petra Kvitova this evening.

It was a rematch of the Wimbledon final, which Kvitova won, but Sharapova was much the better player today and ensured it was 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 on Saturday after the Italian defeated US Open champion Sam Stosur 7-5 1-6 6-3 earlier.

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 for the first time 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 - mirroring her opponent's finish at Wimbledon.

The Russian will now have the chance to win the only grand slam title to have so far eluded her and her first since the Australian Open in 2008.

Errani's success means there will be an Italian in the women's final for the third year in a row after Francesca Schiavone's two runs in 2010, when she beat Stosur, and last year's defeat by Li Na.

But the 25-year-old is an even more 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 today, maintaining a very high level despite the windy conditions, while the match was more than an hour late starting because of rain.

Errani edged a very 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.

But 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.

The sixth seed clawed her way back from 3-0 down to level in the decider but Errani never wavered and she broke serve again before clinching the victory with a love game.

Errani let the emotion show as she sobbed into her towel at the end of the match, but she said of the final moments: "I was very nervous but at the same time I was really focused on the game.

"Maybe she had more pressure. I just wanted to think about what I had to do and try to forget everything, forget where I was."

Errani, who is less than 5ft 5in tall, is having the best season of her career - helped by the change to a longer racquet - and today's win means she will climb into the top 10 from her current ranking of 24th.

She said of her run: "It's incredible for me. I didn't expect it, and I'm here. So I don't know what to say. I'm very happy about how I've played because I think I've played good matches. It's not finished, I have one match more. I have to think about that.

"I don't feel like I'm top 10 but now I will be, so it's a strange sensation. Maybe my problem always was that I couldn't believe that I could beat the strong players.

"But now I've beaten three in a row. I'm in the final of a grand slam. So I have to maybe try to think a bit different."

It was particularly disappointing for Stosur given she appeared to have conquered her mental weaknesses with last year's brilliant US Open final victory over Serena Williams.

The 28-year-old said: "I don't know if it was the conditions or whatever it was.

"I had a good start with 2-0 then I probably wasn't playing the way that I needed to be throughout that first set from that point on.

"I really turned it around in that second then it was too up and down, it wasn't consistent enough. I didn't do it at the times when it really mattered.

"It just sucks that it happened here today. You do it somewhere else, you don't maybe worry about it so much, but here it obviously hurts a lot more."

PA

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

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.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London