The runner-up at the Mutua Madrid Open last year, Maria Sharapova will get another crack at the title after beating Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals.
WTA Staff

MADRID, Spain - Maria Sharapova got off to a sizzling start and then withstood a second set rally from Agnieszka Radwanska to advance to the Mutua Madrid Open final for the second straight year.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Madrid right here on!

The Plot
Sharapova came into this clash 9-2 against Radwanska and 3-0 on clay. Assured or remaining in the Top 10 after her recent success, she was also seeking her 14th win in her last 15 matches, though she has been tested a couple of times this week.

Radwanska should have been equally fatigued, though, having also been extended to a third set twice in Madrid. The Pole came into this semifinal with 28 match wins in 2014 - tied with Carla Suárez Navarro for most on the WTA. She was seeking her 39th Top 10 win and her fourth of this season. A victory would also put her into the final of the only Premier Mandatory where she has yet to reach that stage, having been a semifinalist once before in 2012.

The Turning Point
This encounter looked to be a rout when Sharapova went up 6-1, 3-0. But Radwanska suddenly found her form, reeling off four straight games. Sharapova quickly seized back the momentum, breaking Radwanska, firing two aces en route to holding at love and breaking against for the 6-1, 6-4 triumph.

By The Numbers
Sharapova's hot start was helped by converting on four of five break point chances in the first set. She feasted on Radwanska's second serve throughout the match, winning 12 of 16 points. And overall, she won 35 of 57 points in Radwanska's service games.

"I started the match off really well and I was doing all the right things," Sharapova said. "Then she gained a bit of confidence and started going for her shots more. It became a little bit trickier than I wanted in the second set. I was happy that I came back and stepped it up and did the right things to get myself back in a good position in that set.

"It's great to have these results, over No.3 in the world today and yesterday beating Li Na, who is No.2 in the world. These were my goals at the beginning of the season, physically and mentally after a long lay-off, to be able to play this many matches and get to these stages of tournaments. Certainly, it's nice to be back in the final, playing good tennis, and I have another challenge ahead of me tomorrow.

"Simona is an extremely solid player. She moves well around the court, especially on clay. She gets so many balls back. It will be a physical match. I need to worry about my side of the net and what I do and how I control the points rather than thinking about what she does well."

"I couldn't really do much in the first set," Radwanska said. "She was hitting the ball very well, very deep. She really pushed me back. In the second set I played better, but she really hit good shots in the important moments."

What's Next
Sharapova takes on World No.5 Simona Halep, whom she has not lost a set against in either of their encounters, though they haven't played since 2012.