STUTTGART, Germany: Defending champion Maria Sharapova moved to within one victory of her third straight Stuttgart title after a 6-1, 6-2 win over Italy’s Sara Errani in yesterday’s semi-final.
Sharapova, who won the title in 2012 and 2013, needed just under an hour to see off clay-court specialist Errani in what was a repeat of the 2012 French Open final which the Russian also won.
“The further you go in the tournament, the harder it gets, and I really wanted to step up and produce a good performance,” Sharapova said, who claimed her 12th straight win in Stuttgart.
“The first tournament on clay is always tough -- it’s important to improve with each match and I think I’ve done that this week.
“I know how good Sara is on the surface and I was extra ready to perform against her.
“She has a lot of experience and really knows how to play, so I had to take care of things on my side of the net.” Sharapova, 27, raced into a 3-0 lead winning eight of the first 10 points and took the first set in just 27 minutes with some powerful ground strokes.
The Russian picked up where she left off in Friday’s 6-4, 6-3 quarter-final win over world-number three Agnieszka Radwanska and converted six of her eight break points against Errani.
The 26-year-old Italian was never allowed to find her rhythm as Sharapova dominated the second set.
The Russian, who has never won a tournament three times running, will face former number one Ana Ivanovic in Sunday’s final after her 6-3, 7-5 victory over Jelena Jankovic in an all-Serbian semi-final.
Sharapova leads the series 7-2, with Ivanovic, ranked 12th in the world, having lost twice last year on clay to the Russian -- in the Stuttgart quarter-finals and Madrid semi-finals. AFP