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Sharapova to face Errani in final

Published:Friday | June 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Maria Sharapova

PARIS (AP):

Wind blew in her face, kicking up flecks of clay, and Maria Sharapova stood at the baseline, knowing she needed one more point to reach her first French Open final and return to No. 1 in the rankings.

She rotated her right shoulder, the one surgically repaired 31/2 years ago, and served a fault.

Gulp.

Her next try found the mark: a second-serve ace at 104 mph that landed in a corner. It was a fitting way to close out a 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 4-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the semi-finals at Roland Garros yesterday, a fitting way to announce that Sharapova is once again at the height of her powers and at the top of her sport.

Tomorrow, the second-seeded Russian will face 21st-seeded Sara Errani of Italy for the French Open title. It's the only major tournament Sharapova hasn't won; she can become the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam.

"I was in a position a few years ago where I didn't quite know if I would ever be here again on this stage, playing professionally. And not just at that, but at a level to get to No. 1 in the world and a first Roland Garros final for me," Sharapova said. "So a very special day, no doubt."

Errani felt the same way.

Playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final, she beat reigning US Open champion Sam Stosur of Australia 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.

Racking up victories

Indeed, it's been quite a two weeks for Errani, who will play in the women's doubles final today with Roberta Vinci against Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.

Entering this tournament, Errani was 0-28 against women ranked in the top 10. But she beat No. 10 Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals, then No. 6 Stosur yesterday - and those upsets were preceded by victories over two past French Open champions, 2008's Ana Ivanovic and 2009's Svetlanta Kuznetsova.