Sharapova Nears No. 1 And Career Slam, Can Kvitova Stop Her In French Open Semifinals?
The men’s draw isn’t the only competition with history at stake this weekend. Maria Sharapova is on the verge of making her very own impression in the annals. The Russian is just one win from reclaiming the No. 1 ranking, and two wins from completing her own career Grand Slam.
The self-described “cow on ice” has taken advantage of missteps and the misfortunes of Venus Williams, Serena Williams, a slew of wanna-be former No. 1s, and current No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, and now sits on the cusp of history on her admittedly worst surface. The draw has been kind to Masha.
On women’s semifinal day Thursday, Sharapova faces dangerous lefty Petra Kvitova, who beat Maria in the Wimbledon final last year.
“Maria has had a great year and she’s playing really well, very fast. She has a big serve too,” said Kvitova who trails Sharapova 3-2 in their career meetings. “When I beat her at Wimbledon it was something special for me — it was my first final, but I was No. 8 and she was the favorite in the match, so I didn’t have anything to lose. I could just play my game. But since then it’s sometimes a win, sometimes a loss when I play against her.
“I hope I can remember some good things from my last few matches and we’ll see how it goes against Maria. It will be a tough match, for sure.”
Earlier in the day Kvitova beat qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Sharapova for her part eased past an intimidated Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-3.
“It’s nice to be in this position again. It’s my third time in the semifinals here,” Sharapova said. “Petra’s an extremely tough opponent, someone I have had good success against in our last couple of meetings, but they’re always tough matches. The last one in Stuttgart was a tough two-setter for me — she had opportunities in that second set and when she’s confident, she’s dangerous.”
In the earlier semifinal, Sara Errani meets three-time French Open semifinalist Sam Stosur. The Italian underdog Errani has won just one set in five matches with Stosur.
All four remaining players are seeking their first career French Open title. Errani is the lone member of the foursome without a Slam victory, and only one career win against a Top 10 opponent.
WTA women’s semifinal notes:
Sharapova has equaled her best Roland Garros performance (also SF in 2007 and 2011) and this is her 14th career SF appearance. Since reaching the SF here 12 months ago, she has only failed to reach the last 4 at the US Open.
Errani and Kvitova are making their Roland Garros SF debuts; Errani is also playing the first Grand Slam SF of her career, while this is Kvitova’s 4th (SF at 2010 Wimbledon, won at 2011 Wimbledon and SF at 2012 Australian Open).
All 4 semifinalists have won claycourt titles during their respective careers: Sharapova (5), Errani (4), Kvitova (1) and Stosur (1).
Both Sharapova and Errani have won multiple titles in 2012 — all of them on clay. Sharapova won at Stuttgart and Rome,while Errani lifted trophies at Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest.
Among the semifinalists, only Stosur has advanced to a SF without dropping a set. Sharapova has conceded one set, while Errani and Kvitova have lost two sets.
Sharapova has conceded the fewest games en route to a SF (23; to get to the SF stage here last year she conceded 32 games).
Stosur has spent the least amount of time on court (6 hours).
Errani has conceded the most games (43) and spent the longest amount of time on court (8 hours, 18 minutes).
The 2012 Roland Garros SF line-up features three former Grand Slam champions: Sharapova (3 titles), Kvitova (1) and Stosur (1). Kvitova (Wimbledon) and Stosur (US Open) are reigning champs.
Of the Roland Garros semifinalists, Stosur has reached the SF at three of the last four years at Roland Garros; Sharapova has reached SF at four of the last five Slams; Kvitova has reached SF at three of the last four Slams.
For the first time since 2008, when No. 2 seed Ivanovic, No. 3 Jankovic and No. 4 Kuznetsova advanced to SF, two of the Top 4 seeds (No. 2 Sharapova, No. 4 Kvitova) have reached the last four at Roland Garros. Last year, none of the Top 4 seeds reached this stage of the event.
Errani is the lowest seed to reach the SF here since a 30th-seeded Stosur in 2009.
Only twice, in 1933 and 2010, has the women’s singles title at Roland Garros been won by a player not seeded in the Top 10.
Since 1976, no player ranked outside the Top 20 has won the singles at Roland Garros, however four players ranked outside of the Top 10 have won the title: No. 18 S.Barker (1976 as No. 1 seed), No. 17 V. Ruzici (1978 as No. 2 seed), No. 12 Henin (2005 as No. 10 seed) and No. 17 Schiavone (2010 as No. 17 seed).
Stosur is through to her 3rd SF at Roland Garros (also SF in 2009 and r-Up in 2010); she is the sole semifinalist to have advanced beyond this stage of the tournament previously. This is her 4th Grand Slam SF overall (also won 2011 US Open).
Sharapova and Kvitova are both through to a second consecutive Grand Slam SF, Sharapova defeating Kvitova in the SF at this year’s Australian Open.
Court Philippe Chatrier 12:00 PM Start Time
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) v. Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)
Nadia Petrova (RUS) Lucie Hradecka (CZE) To Finish 4-6 7-5
Not Before:2:00 PM
Samantha Stosur (AUS) v. Sara Errani (ITA)
Petra Kvitova (CZE) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Mixed Doubles – Finals
Klaudia Jans-Ignacik (POL)/Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) vs. Sania Mirza (IND)/Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) 
Also Check Out:
Sharapova, Kvitova Clash in Women’s Wimbledon Final
Sharapova, Kvitova Advance to Wimbledon Final
Sharapova v Lisicki the Popcorn Match; Wimbledon Women’s Semi Previews
Sharapova Suddenly the Wimbledon Favorite After Quarters
Sharapova v Errani: Let’s Play ‘Will She Choke?’ at French Open