Madrid - Maria Sharapova secured her place in the final of the Madrid Open for
the second consecutive year with a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 win over
Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska on Saturday.
The four-time Grand Slam
champion will face Romanian Simona Halep in Sunday's final as she
ground out a hard-fought 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-2 victory over fifth seed
"I don't think we've played for a really long time.
She's had such a great year and obviously she is the player to beat in
the final," said Sharapova.
"I'm looking forward to that matchup.
No matter who I'm facing the toughest match is always the last one.
You've just got to give everything you have out there.
"It's great to be back in the final and give myself another opportunity."
has slowly begun to hit form in recent weeks on her return to clay
conditions after a difficult start to the year and she stormed through
the opening set for the loss of just 11 points.
challenged myself to improve on clay courts because that was never my
favourite surface in the beginning of my career," added Sharapova.
done a really good job of transitioning from the hard to the clay and
really improving physically and recovering well from match to match.
played a lot of matches in the last few weeks, but that's what I want. I
missed four or five months of the season last year and I wanted to come
in to this year and play as many matches as I can.
my goal and that's what I'm here for, so if I'm a little bit tired,
that's normal. If you're feeling fresh then something is wrong because
you're probably not in the finals of the tournaments."
was dominant again at the start of the second as she raced into a 3-0
lead, but Radwanska battled back to take four straight games and lead
4-3 with a break.
Unfortunately for the third seed, though, she
gifted the break straight back and Sharapova also took the next two
games to round off victory in little over an hour.
booked her place in her first ever final of a mandatory event after
outlasting Kvitova after over two-and-a-half hours on court.
was a very tough match today. I couldn't believe that I came from behind
again. She played really well and she was fighting the whole match,"
"I'm very excited that I can play in my biggest final tomorrow. I hope that I can control my emotions and just play.
"I just have to enjoy it. I'm really happy that I can play the final here in Madrid."
the 22-year-old is aware of the size of the task that awaits her in
Sharapova having lost in their only two meetings to date.
"Tomorrow I expect a very tough match. Maria is a champion and she knows how to manage the finals."
just one break apiece it was Kvitova who edged a first set tie-break
and the Czech looked on her way to her first final of the season when
she led 3-1 early in the second.
Halep responded by taking the next seven games to level at one set all and go an early break ahead in the decider.
The fourth seed then broke the Kvitova serve once more to move ahead 5-2 and served the match out in the next game.
"I knew it was going to be a tough match," said Kvitova.
beat me in the New Haven final, so I was looking forward to revenge. It
was a long match and was a good fight throughout. She was just better
in the end, but it was still a good match for me."