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Sharapova Battles Her Way into the Sony Ericsson Open Final

Andrea Petkovic was gunning for another former world number one in order to advance to the Sony Ericsson Open final. However, Maria Sharapova was uncooperative. After dropping the first set in the semifinals, Sharapova dispatched Petkovic 3-6,6-0,6-2.

After Petkovic and Sharapova traded breaks to start the match, Petkovic took control of the first set by breaking and consolidating for 5-2.

In the second set though, Sharapova turned the tables on Petkovic. After Sharapova fought off a break point and had four deuces to hold in the initial game, she seized the break for 2-0.

Subsequently, Sharapova sponged over a break point to get to 3-0. Later, in a game that Petkovic seemed to be in command of, Sharapova manufactured break point to go up 4-0.

Ultimately, on the fourth break point opportunity, Sharapova banked the second set to force a decisive third.

The concluding set was more of the same. An aggressive Sharapova did not allow Petkovic to breathe. Following an swift first game, Sharapova had triple break point. The Russian capitalized with a forehand up the line winner.

With another quick game, Sharapova had a 3-0 lead. When Petkovic sent another backhand out of play, Sharapova had double break point. With another winner, Sharapova sprinted to a 4-0 advantage.

Petkovic mounted a mini charge in breaking Sharapova the first time she served for the match. But, Sharapova reasserted her supremacy by stealing Petkovic’s next game and punched her ticket into the final.

Petkovic was attempting to reach her second final of the year, she was a finalist in Brisbane. Petkovic was the first German in the semifinals in Miami since Steffi Graf in 1999. Moreover, Petkovic was trying to become only the second German to compete for the title.

In analyzing the match, Petkovic had the following to say when asked by whether fatigued played a part “ I think so. . .definitely. But on the other hand, I was telling myself she also had to be tired after a three and a half hour match. You’re not the only one. . . , so come on, move your ass. Sorry. When you get in that state, it’s really tough to get out of it, but I think at least I tried my best”.

By reaching the semifinals, Petkovic will be in the top 20 for the first time in her career. wanted to know what Petkovic felt she had to work on to crack the top ten other than being consistent. Petkovic replied “It’s definitely hard work. I’m one of the girls who works the hardest. I [will] do everything I can to [get to] the top. I needed some experience and some confidence”.

In addition, Petkovic explained “there are two types players I always find. . . The types who are just there and have confidence and others who gain confidence from experience and from matches. I’m the second type of player. . . I really started believing in my ability as a top player during this week. . . .[it was] the confirmation. The good thing is I beat these players and I feel like, man, I still have 105 things to improve. I think that’s a good sign when you still have so many things that you want to improve”.

Following a three hour and twenty nine minute quarterfinal, the longest match of the tournament so far, Sharapova perhaps came out a little flat. Sharapova said “ I didn’t feel in the beginning that I was moving well. I knew that I had to make that adjustment”.

Despite the score the last two sets, Sharapova expressed that it was a difficult contest “although I won the set 60, I still felt like we had a lot of deuce games, as many as we did in the first set”.

Sharapova is thrilled to be in the final saying “It would mean a lot[ to win this tournament]. It’s the biggest I think after the grand slams. I’m pretty fortunate to be in the final after having a few tough ones like I had the previous rounds. I look forward to going out there and getting it done”.

Sharapova is in her third final at the Sony Ericsson Open and her maiden final of 2011. Sharapova last clashed in 2006 with countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova for the trophy, but came up short.

The potential for a second all Russian final exists. Tonight, Vera Zvonareva faces Victoria Azarenka for the remaining slot.

If Sharapova wins the championship, her ranking could rise as high as number eight. The last time Sharapova was in that neighborhood was in 2008 right before her shoulder surgery. That year, Sharapova finished the year at number nine.

Regardless, with her semifinal victory, Sharapova is guaranteed a spot in the top ten.

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