Madrid - Svetlana Kuznetsova scored her first victory over Maria Sharapova in
seven years to reach the final of the Madrid Open 6-2, 6-4 on Friday.
champion Sharapova was the heavy favourite to reach the final for a
third consecutive year with the 29-year-old Kuznetsova having spent
nearly six hours on court in the past two days to reach the last four.
However, it was the two-time Grand Slam champion who dictated from the off and didn't drop her serve once in the match.
breaks were enough to wrap up the first set in just over half an hour
and despite an improvement from Sharapova in the second, another break
in the fifth game of the second was all the Russian needed to reach her
first premier mandatory final since 2009.
"I don't think it caught
me by surprise. I'm playing in a semi-final of a tournament, you have
to be ready for it. She was just the better player," said Sharapova.
The world number three had come into Madrid on a slump having lost in her first round in Miami and Stuttgart.
Sharapova insisted despite defeat that it had been a decent start to
her outdoor clay court season as she builds up for her defence of the
French Open later this month.
"I'm happy to get obviously to this
stage. Having lost a few matches beforehand, I did a good job of setting
a good base for myself coming through some really tough matches in the
last couple of rounds.
"Obviously we have another tournament ahead
of us next week (in Rome) which will also be an important part of the
preparation. I think every match for any player at this stage before a
Grand Slam is important, so it will be for me as well."