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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Serena, Sharapova set up marquee final showdown

PHOTOS: Serena, Sharapova set up marquee final showdown

Last updated on: June 6, 2013 23:30 IST

Sharapova overpowers Azarenka to reach final

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Defending champion Maria Sharapova bludgeoned her way past Belarussian third seed Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 to reach the French Open final on Thursday.

The Russian second seed, who will take on world number one Serena Williams or Italian fifth seed Sara Errani, served 12 aces and 11 double faults in a see-saw contest.

The four-times grand-slam champion dropped serve in the first game before racing through the opener in less than half an hour, spraying Court Philippe Chatrier with forehand winners. 

Sharapova will need to make a dramatic improvement to become the first female to retain her title on the Paris clay since Belgium's Justine Henin in 2007.



Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates match point after her semi-final match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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Azarenka's fightback wasn't good enough

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Double Australian Open champion Azarenka hit back to take the second set but lost her momentum after a 30-minute rain interruption, Sharapova wrapping it up on her fifth match point after two hours 10 minutes.

The Belarussian was playing her first semi-final at Roland Garros.

Azarenka started to find better angles in the second set and opened a 40-15 lead in the third game before a couple of sharp first-service return winners reminded her she would have to fight for every point.

Dark clouds gathered in the sky as Azarenka broke to go 4-2 up when Sharapova netted a backhand.

The Russian poster girl then conceded two break points at 5-2 when the umpire called Azarenka's shot in although TV footage showed the ball was long.

Sharapova saved the first break point with an ace but double faulted on the second.

The rain then intervened and it seemed to take the wind out of Azarenka's sails.

"I think the break kind of changed the momentum," she told a news conference. "I was just trying to make things happen too quick and started missing the ball."


Image: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a forehand in her semi-final against Maria Sharapova of Russia
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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Ruthless Serena thrashes Errani

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Serena Williams was in no mood to hang around at Roland Garros on Thursday as she walloped 2012 runner-up Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1 to reach the French Open final for the first time since 2002.

The American world number one ran away with the match in 46 spellbinding minutes as she completed the most one sided semi-final win at the claycourt grand slam since compatriot Chris Evert whitewashed Camille Benjamin 6-0, 6-0 in 1984.

Williams, who owns only one Suzanne Lenglen Cup among her 15 grand slam trophies, left the Italian down and out after producing 40 screaming winners as she set up a final showdown with defending champion Maria Sharapova, who has not beaten the America since 2004.

Errani won only 16 points in the entire match and did not even manage to muster a winning shot until the 10th game of the contest.


Image: Serena Williams of United States of America celebrates match point in her match against Sara Errani of Italy
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Hradecka-Cermak win French Open mixed doubles

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The Czech Republic's recent run of tennis success continued at the French Open on Thursday when Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak claimed the mixed doubles title.

The country already holds the Davis Cup and Fed Cup team trophies and Hradecka/Cermak gave the nation another reason to rejoice with a 1-6, 6-4, 10-6 (champions tie-break) win over France-Canada duo Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor.

Hradecka brought up match point with an ace but after the Czechs had squandered their first attempt to close the match, they made no mistake on the second.

Mladenovic dumped the ball into the net to hand the Czechs victory in front of a handful of fans on Philippe Chatrier Court.



Image: Frantisek Cermak and Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic pose with the trophy
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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