Sports / Tennis

Sharapova to face Kvitova in Beijing final

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-10-05 07:58

Sharapova to face Kvitova in Beijing final

Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a hit during the women's singles semifinal match against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, China, Oct 4, 2014. Maria Sharapova won 2-0. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - Maria Sharapova came out swinging and then fended off a late surge from Ana Ivanovic to snap a two-match losing streak against the Serb and move through to the final of the China Open on Saturday.

Ivanovic had beaten Sharapova in their last two meetings, in straight sets in the third round of Rome and in a dramatic three-setter in the semifinals of Cincinnati, and Sharapova looked like a woman on a mission this time, coming out of the blocks on absolute fire, storming out to a 6-0, 1-0 lead.

After mustering up just one winner to 14 unforced errors in the first set, the No.9-seeded Ivanovic steadied herself from there, breaking back at love to get back to 1-all then hanging with Sharapova over the course of the next half hour, staying on serve through 4-all. But the No.4-seeded Sharapova broke one last time for 5-4 and closed it out, 6-1, 6-4, after a marathon 10-minute final game.

"I thought I executed quite well with the plan that I had in mind from the beginning of the match," Sharapova said in her press conference. "I felt that I was really the one kind of going for it, just making her move. Sometimes the rallies I lost were when she was on the run - I was all right with those. I'd rather lose those types of rallies than if she's pushing me back and hitting winners."

Sharapova will take on No 3 seed Czech Petra Kvitova in the final.

Kvitova rebounded after a mid-match onslaught from Australian Sam Stosur to win her semifinal at 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

After Kvitova put away the 44-minute opening set, 6-3, Stosur began painting the lines on serve, dropping just four points in six service games and then sneaking out a break in the 12th game to take the second set, 7-5. The Australian hit 13 winners to just nine unforced errors in that second set.

But the No 3-seeded Kvitova bounced back in a big way in the third set, reeling off five games in a row from 1-2 to close the match out, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, hitting a big ace on her first match point.

Sharapova leads Kvitova in their head-to-head series at 5-2, which includes winning their last four meetings in a row - and the last three in straight sets. The last time they played was earlier this year in Miami, also on hardcourts, with Sharapova running away with it in the second set, 7-5, 6-1.

The two will also be playing for No 2 - whoever wins the final will become the new world No 2.

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