Sharapova to meet rising star Halep

Maria Sharapova in Paris.

Maria Sharapova in Paris.

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Maria Sharapova will play first-time finalist Simona Halep in the French Open climax tomorrow.

Sharapova reached the final at Roland Garros for the third successive year with a 4-6 7-5 6-2 victory over Eugenie Bouchard while Halep defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-2 7-6 (7/4).

Fourth-seed Halep has been the highest-ranked player left in the tournament for some time, but she had reached just one grand slam quarter-final before.

Now she is through to the final without dropping a set and will climb to world 
No 3 on Monday. It has been an incredible year for both Halep and Petkovic.

Halep was ranked 57th and lost in the first round at Roland Garros 12 months ago while Petkovic was defeated in qualifying and considered quitting tennis as she tried to battle back from a series of injuries.

The German appeared to be the more nervous of the two and Halep won the first set in just 28 minutes, her brand of graceful, intelligent tennis too much for the wayward Petkovic.

She improved significantly in the second set, but let an early break slip away and Halep was the stronger in the tie-break.

Sharapova, who won the title in 2012 before losing to Serena Williams 12 months ago, maintained her remarkable record in three-set matches, winning a 19th consecutive deciding set on clay.

Bouchard struck first with a break for 2-1. Sharapova fought back to level at 4-4 but Bouchard forged ahead again immediately and held to take the set, saving a break point with the gutsiest of backhand winners onto the line.

Sharapova responded by taking the second set, and the Russian moved ahead at 3-1 in the third, and for the first time Bouchard was making bad mistakes on the big points.

She saved four match points but could not deny Sharapova.

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