Sharapova Fights Back To Make Final
Published June 05, 2014 12:13
Sharapova's path to the last four in Paris was certainly not easy. She was six points from defeat against Samantha Stosur in the fourth round and teetered even closer to elimination against Garbiñe Muguruza a few days later. Yet, as she has on so many occasions in the past, she produced her best tennis when it mattered most, passing both tests to book a semifinal with one of the game's brightest young talents, Bouchard.
The Turning Point
Appearing in her first French Open semifinal, Bouchard looked at home from the outset, striking the ball with a calm authority and quickly building a 3-1 lead. While Sharapova eventually wrestled back the break, there was to be no denying the young Canadian, who promptly rattled off the next two games to take the set.
The Russian began the second with a confident service hold and a trademark fist pump and was waiting to pounce when Bouchard's level dropped in the next game. This early advantage was not enough to get her over the line, though. A dramatic conclusion to the set saw the 2012 champion try - and fail - to serve it out before summoning her best tennis to finally get over the line.
Bouchard continued to battle away in the decider, playing her part in a succession of breathtaking exchanges, but it was clear the tide had turned. A missed drive volley handed Sharapova the first break and from here she turned the screw, completing her comeback when her return skidded off the baseline on her fifth match point.
"She played an unbelievable match today," Sharapova said. "Her level was extremely high and I was fortunate to win because she played tremendous tennis.
"Obviously, I would prefer to win in two sets. It was tough losing that first set, but that's not when the match ends and that's why you put in the hard work - to get through those moments."
Meeting Sharapova for the title will be Simona Halep, who is entering uncharted territory at a major, having never been beyond the last eight before. However, despite her edge in experience Sharapova is expecting another tough assignment.
"Sometimes when you play someone who's never been in that situation, they play loose and there's not much you can do. You just hope they slow down a little bit," she said.