Ana Ivanovic let a massive lead go and eventually had to face two match points but still overcame Maria Sharapova in an electric Saturday night match in Cincinnati.
WTA Staff

CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Ana Ivanovic won a dramatic three-setter against Maria Sharapova at the Western & Southern Open to set up a blockbuster clash with Serena Williams in Sunday's final.

The Plot
With Williams already waiting in the final, it was going to be one of two of the game's other best power players who was going to join her - and if history were anything to go by, many would have probably suspected it to be Sharapova, who had not only won eight of the pair's previous 11 meetings, but who had also won this very tournament before, conquering the Premier-level event back in 2011.

The Turning Point
There were multiple turning points in this rollercoaster of a semifinal match, with Ivanovic the first to strike, storming out to a seemingly insurmountable 6-2, 4-0 lead, and then Sharapova clawing her way back into the match, taking the second set, 7-5, and building a 4-2 lead in the deciding third set.

After Ivanovic won the next two games Sharapova broke again and served for the match at 5-4 in the third, even bringing up two match points - but Ivanovic swatted the first one away with a big forehand winner, and Sharapova missed a forehand long on the second one. She then hit back-to-back double faults to give the break back to Ivanovic, and that may have been the most critical turn in the match, as Ivanovic fought off a break point to hold for 6-5 and then broke one last time to close the match out.

The No.9-seeded Ivanovic had beaten the No.5-seeded Sharapova in a marathon, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5.

By The Numbers
Beyond the match stats, Ivanovic continued to creep towards becoming the first player to 50 wins on the season, this being her WTA-leading 47th, and by virtue of her performance so far this week she will rise from No.11 to No.9 on the WTA Rankings on Monday - and she will go to No.8 with the title.

The significance of that ranking rise is big - with Li Na, the World No.3, out of action until the fall with a knee injury, Ivanovic will now be guaranteed a Top 8 seed at the upcoming US Open.

"I really got a little tight," Ivanovic admitted about her second set collapse. "I wasn't moving my feet forward enough and played a little passive. But she's a champion and was fighting so well.

"I just had to regroup in the third set, and I'm so glad I could win this match tonight."

What's Next
Awaiting Ivanovic in the final is the No.1-seeded Williams. Williams leads Ivanovic in their head-to-head, 6-1, but that's just 2-1 in 2014, with all three of those meetings going to three sets.

"For me, the most important thing is recovery for tomorrow and trying to be fresh," Ivanovic said afterwards. "It's going to be a great match, I think. We played three times this year already.

"I think it's going to be a great test for me as well to play against Serena. She's the No.1 player in the world and she's a great champion, so I think it's going to be a good match. I hope it goes well."