Halep sets up Sharapova showdown in French Open final
Originally published on 05/06/14
The Russian recovered from losing the opening set to beat the 20-year-old 4-6 7-5 6-2 and set up a meeting with Simona Halep. The fourth seed is still yet to drop a set at the tournament after coming through 6-2 7-6(4) against Andrea Petkovic to reach her first Grand Slam final.
"I'm very emotional and I feel amazing now knowing I will play the final here in Paris," said the 22-year-old. "Andrea was very tough and she is a good player, but I was a little bit stronger in the end and am so happy to get through. I tried my best and did everything I could to win this match and want to thank everyone here today, because you all helped me win. I have a lot of confidence in myself and am looking forward to the final now and hopefully playing another good match.”
Halep was beaten 1-6 6-2 6-3 by Sharapova in the Mutua Madrid Open final last month and the Russian has continued to show her fighting qualities in Paris. The 2012 champion came from a set down to beat both Sam Stosur and Garbine Muguruza and did the same against Bouchard.
"I don't feel that I played my best tennis today," she said. "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. I'm happy and proud about that."
Again Sharapova did it the hard way as she dropped the opening set against Bouchard and then struggled to close out the second. The Russian twice double faulted on set point as Bouchard showed her own fighting qualities to battle back from 5-2 down and level at 5-5. But Sharapova raised her game to get her over the line and then quickly broke to establish the initiative in the decider. Bouchard, playing her second successive Slam semi-final, managed to save four match points but Sharapova eventually closed out the victory at the fifth time of asking in two hours and 27 minutes.
“I'm always disappointed with a loss," said Bouchard. "I expect a lot from myself. I felt like I was close today and just came up a bit short."
Halep made lighter work of Petkovic in the second semi-final, taking the opening set in just 28 minutes. The German improved in the second set and opened up a 3-1 lead, only to gift Halep the break back with a couple of errors. The tie-break was a nervous affair but Halep came through to set up a meeting with Sharapova.
“I have to be aggressive against Maria,” said No.4 seed Halep. “She's a great player, so I'll try my best and hopefully it will be a good enough. “In Madrid I played really well, but in the second set I changed my style and was behind the baseline too much.”