Sometimes the scoreboard isn't reflective of what actually happened in a match.
Ivanovic won their last two meetings in Rome and Cincinnati this year, but a slow start and poor conversion on break points hurt her just as much as anything Sharapova did on the other side of the net.
Ivanovic saw more break points than Sharapova for the match but only converted one of nine to the Russian's five of eight. It was a case of uncharacteristically not seizing the moment for the rising Serb, who is back in the Top 10 in the world after an extended absence.
Ivanovic was broken immediately in the match, but led 40-0 serving at 0-2, providing an ideal opportunity to get on the scoreboard. She was broken.
The Serb then had three break points in Sharapova's next service game and couldn't convert. She then had a game point serving at 4-0 but was broken, and again had a game point in her next service game at the start of the second set but was broken once again.
Sharapova won the first seven games of the match, and you could sense the extra motivation after losing their last two encounters. There was an edge to her game and demeanor that clearly smelled of revenge.
Sharapova only won one more point than Ivanovic in the second set (37 to 36), and if it wasn't for a lucky, mishit backhand landing on the very outside edge of the line on break point at 4-5, ad out, this match may well have had a lot more twists and turns.
Sharapova tightened up serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set in a game of high drama, lasting over eleven and a half minutes.
The Russian double faulted on the opening point as Ivanovic aggressively stood way in the court to take the second serve. She double faulted again at 0-15, and then Ivanovic missed a backhand down the line on the next shot that really wasn't there for the taking. Ivanovic would make 16 backhand and 16 forehand errors for the match, often changing direction on defense only to miss.
Sharapova then threw in her third double fault in four points, and Ivanovic was right in the driver's seat to get back into the match at 15-40, but two forehand errors brought the score back to deuce.
Sharapova then hit her seventh ace to bring up match point, but Ivanovic rocked a hard forehand return right through the baseline to force a Sharapova forehand error and it was deuce once again.
Ivanovic then crushed a backhand return winner down the line off a second serve with great footwork well inside the baseline. Sharapova countered on the next point with a forehand cross-court winner to get back to deuce, and then hit her second ace of the game to bring up her second match point. It was feast or famine as Sharapova followed the ace up with another double fault in the net - her fourth of the game.
Backhand errors from both players brought the game back to its fifth deuce. Sharapova then missed a first shot forehand wide and Ivanovic thought she had broken on the next point when Sharapova mishit a first shot backhand that looked wide.
Ivanovic even collected the balls to serve, but Sharapova had challenged the call and it was in by the slimmest of margins. Sharapova went on to win the match on her fourth match point when Ivanovic sailed a forehand long to hold on against the fast-finishing Serb.
The scoreboard showed a routine victory, but the drama was electric at the finish line.
Sharapova will now play Petra Kvitova in Sunday's final, promising a low, hard-hitting encounter with both players looking to employ first-strike strategy.
Craig O'Shannessy (@BrainGameTennis) is the leading analyst for wtatennis.com throughout the 2014 season, utilizing SAP Data & Insights to uncover the patterns and percentages that dominate the game. Visit Craig's website at www.braingametennis.com for more expert strategy analysis.