Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova face off in French Open final

June 7, 2013 at 7:40 AM
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PARIS, June 7 (UPI) -- Serena Williams, who climbed to the No. 1 ranking in an amazing year, meets defending champion Maria Sharapova in Saturday's French Open final.

They are coming off very different semifinals. Williams turned in one of the most dominant efforts in a Grand Slam event, beating fifth-seeded Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1. Sharapova, the No. 2 seed, got past third-seeded Victoria Azarenka in three sets.

The matches were good indications of where both finalists are with their game: Williams is in perhaps the best form of a very strong career; Sharapova is playing very well and has the toughness to overcome those times when her game lapses when her aggressive style creates mistakes.

A year ago Williams was stunned in the opening round of the French Open by world No. 111 Virginie Razzano 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3. Since then Williams is 67-3 with 10 tournament titles, including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the U.S. Open.

Her 2013 record is 36-2 with five championships. She's beaten Sharapova three times this year -- twice in finals -- to run her career record to 13-2 versus Sharapova. Sharapova hasn't beaten Williams since 2004.

"I'm just really focused right now," Williams said after the win over Errani. "I want to do the best I can. I want to give myself every opportunity to do that. That's all I want. But even if that means I lose, at least I know I have done the best I can and it's OK. But as long as I give that effort, it feels better."

Williams, who has 15 Grand Slam titles, is in her second French Open final. Her first was in 2002 when she beat sister Venus and started the Serena Slam as she followed that with wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and the Australia Open.

She is 15-4 in major tournament title matches, twice losing to Venus and in 2011 to Samantha Stosur at the U.S. Open. The other was in 2004 at Wimbledon when Sharapova collected her first Grand Slam championship.

Sharapova, who completed the career Grand Slam with her win over Errani in last year's French Open final, has four major tournament titles. She's been in the finals three other times, including a loss to Williams in the 2007 Australian Open. Sharapova is 30-4 this year -- three losses to Williams -- with two championships.

"I had a tremendous year last year," Sharapova said about the 2012 French Open. "Obviously to come back as defending champion, it's extremely special to get back on that stage where it comes down to the last two players of the tournament. It's certainly a nice feeling. I hope I can bring my best tennis for the last one."

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