Halep, Sharapova will decide 2014 French Open champ|
Paris, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Fourth-seeded Simona Halep landed in her
first career Grand Slam final, while former titlist Maria Sharapova secured
a berth in a third straight French Open championship match.
Halep handled 28th-seeded German Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), in
Thursday's nightcap and the seventh-seeded former world No. 1 star Sharapova
outlasted 18th-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, both on Court
Playing in their first-ever Grand Slam semifinals, Halep blew past a nervous
Petkovic in the first set on Thursday before the German tightened things up in
the second. The young Romanian, however, would not be denied, as she forced a
second-set tiebreak, which she won handily to advance in 1 hour, 29 minutes.
The 22-year-old Halep is now 3-1 lifetime versus the 26-year-old Petkovic, who
tallied 16 more unforced errors (36-20) in the setback. The Romanian had 21
more winners (77-56) and broke her German counterpart three times, compared to
only one break for "Petko."
The in-form Halep has yet to lose a set through six matches here.
In Thursday's opener, an aggressive Bouchard outplayed Sharapova in sneaking
out the first set, but the Russian veteran clawed back in the second and
ultimately converted on a fifth set point to level the match. Sharapova blew
three of the set points while leading 5-3 in the stanza.
The third set, however, was dominated by Sharapova, who got a key break to
grab a 3-1 lead and then cruised from there. Bouchard would save four match
points to no avail, as a fifth was the result of a Sharapova forehand winner
that skidded off the baseline past the young Canadian.
The Russian came out on top in 2 hours, 27 minutes despite misfiring with nine
double faults. Bouchard piled up 13 more unforced errors (48-35) on Day 12
of the fortnight, as the fierce Sharapova has now won her last 10 three-set
"I would love to win those matches in two sets, but I always feel like I put
in the work to be ready to play whatever it takes," Sharapova said. "If it
takes three hours to win the match in three sets, I will be ready for that.
"If some things are not working out, I don't just want to quit in the middle.
Because when you lose the first set or a few games or you're down a break,
that's not the end of the match. That's the type of philosophy that I play
The 27-year-old Sharapova is now 3-0 lifetime against Bouchard, including
a second-round win at the French last year.
The rising 20-year-old Bouchard has appeared in the semifinals at both of this
year's Grand Slams.
"It's always disappointing to be a little bit off," Bouchard said. "I felt
like I was trying to do what I wanted to do, which was to be aggressive. But
often I constructed the point well and then didn't finish it as well as I
The 6-foot-2 Sharapova completed the career Grand Slam with a title here in
2012 and lost to Serena Williams in last year's marquee finale.
She will appear in her ninth Grand Slam championship match (4-4) and 54th
overall career final (31-22). The Russian is 2-1 in her 2014 finals, with both
victories coming on clay in Madrid and Stuttgart.
Sharapova is 18-1 on clay this year and has lost only four matches on the
surface since 2012, with three of the losses coming against Williams. Fellow
former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic upset the Russian on some clay in Rome last month.
The veteran Sharapova is 3-0 lifetime against Halep, including a win on clay
in the final in Madrid just last month.
Halep has captured a whopping seven WTA titles over the last 13 months, second
only to Williams, and she's the only woman to have won titles on clay, grass
and hard courts during that stretch.
The graceful Romanian is 7-4 in her career WTA finals, including 1-1 this
06/05 14:28:25 ET