Maria Sharapova meets surprising Sara Errani Saturday in the French Open finals. The winner will mark the sixth different champion in as many events, and there will be a new French Open champion as both players are appearing in their first Roland Garros final.
In this first-time meeting of 25-year-olds, Maria Sharapova has lost just one set, Errani three including her first set of the tournament to Casey Dellacqua.
“I didn’t think I could do this coming into the tournament. Never. This is just incredible for me,” Errani said Thursday after beating Stosur. “The first round here was difficult, this match was difficult, all the matches have been difficult, and I’m very happy how I’ve played.
“The most important thing for me is I’m just thinking about playing – I’m just playing my game without thinking of what I’m doing. But I’m not finished.”
Seeking a career Slam, Sharapova hasn’t won a major since the 2008 Australian Open, before her shoulder injury. But Errani, who had never beaten a Top 10 player until this event, has wins over three Grand Slam champions this week.
“To be in a Roland Garros final for the first time is a great achievement,” she said. “I’ve always believed and have always worked towards it, but I didn’t know if I was really ever quite ready for it physically. So to be at this stage here for the first time, 25 years old, is really just a great personal achievement.”
Regardless of outcome, Sharapova will rank No. 1 on Monday in new WTA Rankings.
With her SF win over Kvitova, Sharapova returns to WTA World No.1 for the first time in 4 years; she became the first
Russian player to claimthe No.1 ranking (week of August 25, 2005), and held it for a total of 17 non-consecutive weeks,
most recently in 2008.
Sharapova has now advanced to the final at all 4 Grand Slams; she is 3-3 in her first 6 Grand Slamfinals.
Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam title missing from Sharapova’s resume; she is bidding to become the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam (6th in Open Era).
In the Open Era, 8 women have won 3 of the 4 GS titles, including Sharapova. Of those 8 women, 5 have reached the
final of the Grand Slam tournament that they have not won.
Sharapova is trying to complete a career Grand Slam; she would become the 10th player to accomplish this feat (6th in
Sharapova has reached the final at 3 of the last 4 Slams (also R-Up at 2011Wimbledon and 2012 Australian Open; lost
3r at 2011 USOpen).
Sharapova has reached the final in 6 of her 8 WTA events this year (2-3 in finals).
With 26 career singles titles, Sharapova currently ranks 4th among active players behind Venus Williams (43), Serena
Williams (41) and Kim Clijsters (41); additionally, she ranks 19th on the all-time list of title winners.
4 of Sharapova’s last 5 titles have been on clay (2010 Strasbourg, 2011 Rome, 2012 Stuttgart, 2012 Rome; also 2011
Cincinnati – hard court); she haswon a total of 5 clay court titles (also 2008 Amelia Island).
In 2012 Sharapova has lost just once to a player ranked outside the Top 20:No.27 Kerber in QF at Paris [Indoors].
Sharapova is 15-0 on red clay this year winning titles at Rome and Stuttgart and advancing to the final here, a stretch
that includes 4 wins against Top 5 opponents – No.5 Stosur, No.3 Kvitova and No.1 Azarenka (all in Stuttgart) and No.4
Kvitova in SF at RG.
Sharapova is 8-0 in 3-setmatches this year, including her 4r win against Zakopalova; since the start of 2011 Sharapova
is 20-1 in 3 set matches (only loss: Pennetta in 3r of US Open last year).
Sharapova is the first Russian through to the Roland Garros final since Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated countrywoman
Dinara Safina in 2009; she would be the third Russian woman to win the title (alsoMyskina in 2004).
The winner of 2012 Roland Garros will be the 6th different player to win a Grand Slam title in the last 6 Slams. Sara
Errani is bidding become the 5th straight first time winner at a Slam, joining Li Na (2011 Roland Garros), Petra Kivtova
(2011Wimbledon), Samantha Stosur (2011 USOpen) and VictoriaAzarenka (2012 Australian Open).
Errani is making her Grand Slam final debut; in the Open Era there have been 41 different champions with Roland
Garros producing themost first-time winners (15), followed by Wimbledon (10), Australian Open (8) and US Open (8).
Errani is the lowest seed to reach the final here in the Open Era (also No.21 seed Mary Pierce, R-Up in 2005).
Just twice (all-time) has the women’s singles title at Roland Garros been won by a player not seeded in the Top 10: in
1933 (unseededM.Scriven; tournament had 8 seeds) and 2010 (No.17 seed Schiavone).
Since 1976, no player ranked outside the Top 20 has won the singles at Roland Garros, however there have been 4
players ranked outside of the Top 10 who havewon 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).
Errani’s previous best performance at Roland Garros was 2r (2011); she lost in 1r in her first 3 appearances here (2008,
Errani made her Grand Slam QF debut at this year’s Australian Open.
In her first 17 Grand Slamappearances, Errani was 15-17 reaching the 3r five times; so far this year she is 10-1 at Grand
Slamsmaking her QF debut at a Slam at Australian Open and reaching her maiden Grand Slamfinal appearance.
In the last 10 years (since 2002), 6 players have won a Grand Slam singles title in their maiden GS final appearance:
Myskina (2004 Roland Garros), Sharapova (2004 Wimbledon), Kuznetsova (2004 US Open), Schiavone (2010 Roland
Garros), Kvitova (2011Wimbledon) and Azarenka (2012 Australian Open).
Errani is the first player since Clijsters in 2003 to reach both the singles and doubles final here (Clijsters was R-up in
singles,won doubles); Mary Pierce was the last player towin both the singles and doubles titles in the same year – 2000
(d. C.Martinez in final;w/Hingis d. Suarez/Ruano Pascual in doubles final).
Entering Roland Garros, Errani was 1-37 vs. Top 15 opponents and 0-28 vs. Top 10; en route to the final she defeated
No.14 Ivanovic (first Top 15 win since 2008 Rome, d. No.15 Szavay), No.10 Kerber (first career Top 10 win) and No.6
Stosur (career-bestwin rankings-wise).
By reaching the final at RG, Errani is projected to make her Top 10 debut at No.10 (win or lose); Errani is the third
Italianwoman to be ranked in the Top 10 (Pennetta, Schiavone).
Errani entered RG as the No. 4 ranked Italian behind Schiavone, Vinci and Pennetta; after Roland Garros, the new Italian
ranking orderwill be Errani, Pennetta, Vinci and Schiavone.
Earlier this year, Errani won 16-straight clay-court matches (5-0 at Acapulco, 5-0 in Barcelona, 5-0 in Budapest, 1-0 in
Madrid before losing to A.Radwanska).
(Notes from WTA)
Also Check Out:
Sharapova v Errani: Let’s Play ‘Will She Choke?’ at French Open
French Open Women’s Quarterfinals Previews and Predictions
Halep, Petkovic Win; Women’s Semis Thursday
Sharapova v Lisicki the Popcorn Match; Wimbledon Women’s Semi Previews
Stosur, Errani into French Semis; Sharapova, Kvitova Up Wednesday