Sharapova scraps into final showdown with Halep

Thu Jun 5, 2014 4:07pm EDT
 
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By Pritha Sarkar

PARIS (Reuters) - She once posed for a photograph with an eight-year-old Eugenie Bouchard but that friendly touch was not on show on Thursday as Maria Sharapova wiped the smile off the Canadian's face to set up a French Open final with Simona Halep.

While a 2002 photo of a statuesque Sharapova wrapping her arm around a pixie-like Bouchard has gone viral over the past 48 hours, the Russian hogged the limelight at Roland Garros as she shrieked her way to her third successive Paris final with a 4-6 7-5 6-2 win.

"Winning a match where I felt my opponent played extremely well, exceptional tennis and I didn't feel that I was playing my best, I fought, I scrambled, and I found a way to win," said seventh seed Sharapova after a third straight win from a set down.

She produced nine double faults, 35 unforced errors and was broken four times in a messy performance but the shot that mattered most was the blazing forehand she sent flying past Bouchard's racket on her fifth match point.

That left the Russian bellowing into the skies while Bouchard, dubbed the 'next Sharapova' was left to reflect on what might have been.

"When you play a great champion, you definitely feel their presence. Often I constructed the point well and then didn't finish it as well as I could," said the 20-year-old, who failed in her bid to become the first Canadian woman to reach a slam final.

"I had a couple of chances here and there and just didn't take my opportunities when I had a few of them. That's part of the learning experience for me."

Halep, 22, proved that she is a fast learner as she became the first Romanian in 34 years to reach a grand slam final by dousing the fire of Andrea Petkovic with a 6-2 7-6(4) win.   Continued...

 
Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her women's semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard of Canada at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 5, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes