Sharapova reaches third straight French Open final

 

The Sports Network

Paris, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Former champion Maria Sharapova secured a berth in a third straight French Open final with a hard-fought semifinal victory Thursday in Paris.

The seventh-seeded former world No. 1 star outlasted 18th-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, on Court Chatrier.

Sharapova's opponent on Saturday will be fourth-seeded Romanian Simona Halep or 28th-seeded German Andrea Petkovic.

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 matches.

The 27-year-old Sharapova is now 3-0 lifetime against Bouchard, including a second-round win at the French last year.

The 20-year-old Bouchard has appeared in the semifinals at both of this year's Grand Slams.

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.

Sharapova will appear in her ninth Grand Slam championship match (4-4) and 54th overall career final (31-22). She's 2-1 in her 2014 finals, with victories coming on clay in Madrid and Stuttgart.

The tall Russian is 18-1 on clay this year and has lost only four matches on the surface since 2012, with three of the setbacks coming against Williams. Fellow former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic upset the Russian on clay in Rome last month.

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