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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Sharapova subdues Bouchard to reach Paris final

PHOTOS: Sharapova subdues Bouchard to reach Paris final

Last updated on: June 06, 2014 01:44 IST

PHOTOS: Sharapova subdues Bouchard to reach Paris final

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It wasn't easy and at times it wasn't pretty, but Maria Sharapova turned up the heat over three sets against up-and-coming Canadian Eugenie Bouchard on Thursday to reach her third consecutive French Open final. 

For a time, the woman being labelled the "next Sharapova" looked on course for victory over the current model, until the Russian's aggression and experience prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. 

It was Sharapova's third consecutive victory from a set down - further proof that when the chips are down there are few players who can equal her for fighting spirit. 

"Winning a match where 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," the 2012 champion told reporters.

"In the third I thought I was the aggressive one. I stepped up and I was doing things that I had wanted to do, which was I feel maybe I should have done earlier."


Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her women's semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard of Canada
Photographs: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

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Stamping her authority

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Looking close to mirror images on court, each blonde, each dressed in shades of pink with orange trim and each working the angles with flashing groundstrokes, it was Bouchard who called the tune in the first set. 

However, by her own admission, she backed off in the second and third sets and despite Sharapova's service games being peppered with double faults, it was the more experienced player who began to stamp her authority, the shrieks becoming a roar of delight as she snuffed out the 20-year-old. 

Sharapova will face Romanian fourth seed Simona Halep in the final, hoping to go one better than her defeat by Serena Williams last year.


Image: Maria Sharapova hits a return during her semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Too many mistakes on important moments

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A disconsolate Bouchard, seeded 18, knew she had been within touching distance of reaching her first Grand Slam final off the back of her last four run in Australia. 

"I thought I was really close to it at the end of the second set, but I made too many mistakes on important points and important moments," Bouchard, known as Genie, told reporters. 

Sharapova, who has battled shoulder injuries during her career, has now won the last 19 three-set matches she has played on clay since losing to Justine Henin in the third round at Roland Garros in 2010. 

"In these last matches I have lost the first set, but I have lost them in different ways," she said. 

"You know, at the end of the day, it's not how you finish a first set. It's how you finish the last set."


Image: Eugenie Bouchard reacts after missing out on a point during the semi-final match against Maria Sharapova
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Halep conjures more tricks to reach first Slam final

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Simona Halep conjured more magical shot-making to torment Andrea Petkovic and reach her first Grand Slam final with a 6-2, 7-6(4) victory in the semi-finals of the French Open on Thursday. 

The Romanian fourth seed had Petkovic under her spell in the opening set but had to fend off some spirited resistance in the second. 

She fell a break down but recovered to force a tiebreak which she always controlled. 

Halep, who has yet to drop a set in the tournament, ended the contest on her first match point with her 15th forehand winner. 

"It's incredible I will play the final here in Paris," said Halep. "She played really well but I think I was a little bit stronger in the end. 

"I have a lot of confidence in myself now. I played really well here. The next round will be tough. I played her (Sharapova) in Madrid. Why not take my revenge," she added.


Image: Simona Halep of Romania celebrates victory during her women's singles match against Andrea Petkovic of Germany
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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'I'm very disappointed because I had a lot of chances'

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Injury-prone Petkovic, playing at the French Open for the first time since reaching the quarter-finals in 2011, said she had paid for a slow start. 

"I'm very disappointed because I had a lot of chances in the second set," she said. 

"I feel like the first set Simona played really great tennis, and I had trouble getting into my rhythm and trouble with my footwork. I wasn't really on fire." 

Petkovic made six unforced errors in the first two games and the shrewd Halep, last year's most improved player on the women's tour, quickly opened a 5-1 lead on a sunny Philippe Chatrier court.


Image: Andrea Petkovic of Germany reacts during her women's semi-final match against Simona Halep of Romania
Photographs: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

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First Romanian Grand Slam finalist since Ruzici in 1980

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While not packing too much power, Halep compensates with beguiling anticipation and great footwork while her accuracy off the ground had Petkovic chasing left and right. 

Once the nerves had settled Petkovic's greater firepower began to make an impression and she converted her first break point in the fourth game with a forehand winner. 

Suddenly, it was Halep who was running around chasing balls. 

The German showed signs of frustration in the following game, however, sending a routine forehand wide to concede the break and allow Halep to regain some control. 

Halep, managed by compatriot Virginia Ruzici, the 1978 Roland Garros champion, took her chance and levelled for 3-3 and remained solid as the set went into a decider. 

After opening a 4-1 lead, Halep kept her composure to become her country's first Grand Slam finalist since Ruzici in 1980 when she lost to Chris Evert.


Image: Simona Halep
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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