Roland Garros Final Preview
Published June 08, 2012 09:22
Court Philippe Chatrier
 Sara Errani (ITA #24) vs.  Maria Sharapova (RUS #2)
Head-to-head: first meeting
Maria Sharapova's date with destiny has finally arrived. And standing on the other side of the net for it will be an unexpected opponent: Sara Errani. However, after an upset-filled fortnight, Errani's appearance in what is her maiden Grand Slam final should come as no surprise. Particularly in light of the sparkling tennis she has produced throughout the tournament.
The Italian's fairytale run - which has featured wins over two former champions and two members of the Top 10 - is the latest highlight of what has already been a truly memorable season. Titles in Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest have sent her shooting up the rankings and, regardless of the outcome in the final, Monday morning will see her gatecrash the Top 10 for the first time.
Errani laid the foundations for this march up the rankings in the off-season, where she undertook a Spartan training regime to improve her already-formidable fitness levels and also switched to a more powerful Babolat racquet. Her new weapon of choice has added extra weight to her groundstrokes, something which could prove pivotal against a big hitter like Sharapova.
Yet, for all Errani's improvements, and all her feats in Paris, she will start the final as heavy underdog; Sharapova arrived in the French capital having won titles in Stuttgart and Rome and has looked imperious this fortnight, dropping just one set en route to the final.
Most impressive was her straight set dismantling of Petra Kvitova in the semifinals, when she married her trademark heavy groundstrokes with excellent court coverage and no shortage of tactical nous. A repeat performance in the final will leave Errani up against it. Judging by the last few rounds, though, that is just when she is at her most dangerous.
Road To The Final
First Round: d. Casey Dellacqua, 46 62 62 (1:52)
Second Round: d. Melanie Oudin, 62 63 (1:14)
Third Round: d. Ana Ivanovic, 16 75 63 (2:00)
Fourth Round: d. Svetlana Kuznetsova, 60 75 (1:33)
Quarterfinals: d. Angelique Kerber, 63 76(2) (1:39)
Semifinals: d. Samantha Stosur, 75 16 63 (2:04)
First Round: d. Alexandra Cadantu, 60 60 (0:48)
Second Round: d. Ayumi Morita, 61 61 (1:00)
Third Round: d. Peng Shuai, 62 61 (1:06)
Fourth Round: d. Klara Zakopalova, 64 67(5) 62 (3:11)
Quarterfinals: d. Kaia Kanepi, 62 63 (1:14)
Semifinals: d. Petra Kvitova, 63 63 (1:17)