Millennium Post

Gritty Sharapova to face Li Na for title

Top seed and holder Maria Sharapova battled through a tough three-set clay court match for the third day in a row to book a place in the final of the Stuttgart Grand Prix.

The Russian ended the challenge of home favourite Angelique Kerber, beating the third seed 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 to set up a title showdown with Li Na of China who put out American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 6-3.

Sharapova, who was also taken to three sets by Czech Lucie Safarova on Thursday and by Serb Ana Ivanovic 24 hours later, has an excellent record when she is taken the distance. The world number two had won 28 of her previous 31 three-set encounters and it was the Russian’s extra aggression that proved the key against Kerber.


China’s Li Na has said she expects a tough battle in the final at the Stuttgart WTA clay-court tournament against defending French Open champion Maria Sharapova. Sharapova is unbeaten in Stuttgart, having won all seven of her games on her two appearances here. ‘Sharapova’s a fighter, she never gives up and I will have to focus on every point out on the court. She’s an aggressive player, but every final is tough,’ said the 31-year-old Li. Li won in their last meeting in January’s Australian Open semifinal 6-2, 6-2. It was her fifth win over the Russian, who beat her eight times.


Sania Mirza and Bethanie Mattek-Sands will have to wait for their third title of the season as they ended runners-up at the WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix after losing the summit clash to Sabine Lisicki and Mona Barthel on Sunday. Playing their third final of the season, the unseeded Indo-American pair lost 4-6 5-7 in one hour and 33 minutes to the local favourites, who were unseeded wild card entrants. Sania and Bethanie had won Brisbane and Dubai events early in the year. The Indian star and Bethanie had their chances in the match as they earned four break chances in the opening set but could convert none.
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