>> Saturday, June 9, 2012
Two very different players, two very different styles, one dream. When Maria Sharapova and Sara Errani step on court on Saturday, 3pm local time, both players will be aiming for the French Open 2012 women's singles title. It will be the fourth title for Sharapova completing a career Grand Slam while for Errani, it will be her first ever major win. Watch Sharapova vs Errani French Open 2012 Women's Finals live stream here. The two players have never met before but Sharapova is the overwhelming favorite. She has won two major tune-ups for the year's second Grand Slam - in Stuttgart and in Rome - although one can be argued that Errani is the most successful clay court player this year after winning three smaller clay court events in the first three months of the season.
Surprisingly, it was Errani who has beaten more impressive opponents on her way to the final. She eliminated former champions Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third and fourth round stages respectively. Then, she beat two top 10 players back-to-back in Angelique Kerber and Samantha Stosur, her first top 10 wins in her career. Stosur herself was a previous French Open 2012 finalist. As for Sharapova, her only top 10 opponent was world no. 4 and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova who she beat impressively in the semi-final. See below for the players that Sharapova and Errani had to beat to reach the 2012 Roland-Garros women's singles final:
Sara Errani's 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)
Maria Sharapova's Road to the Final
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)
Former titlist Martina Navratilova is more than impressed by the 25 year old. "She hits all the right shots," she said. "She plays so well within herself, doesn't go for too much. At the very end of the match [against Stosur] she hit a couple nervous shots, and maybe beginning of the third set there was a shot that she should have made that she missed. She missed a backhand crosscourt into an open court. I was like, Wow, this is really the first shot that she missed that she should've made the whole match. Good technique, great technique. She's got that grip that works okay. Because she's short, but she can hit a high ball that way. She's got a lot of confidence now."
What is unknown is how Errani will react in her first Grand Slam final. Some players have been outstanding, such as Sharapova at 2004 Wimbledon, Ivanovic at 2008 Roland Garros, Francesca Schiavone at 2010 Roland Garros and Li Na at 2010 Roland Garros. Others such as former Roland Garros finalists Natasha Zvereva and Dinara Safina, froze when they got to the big stage. Sharapova is attempting to win a career grand Slam, which will certainly put some pressure on her, but while she has performed badly in a couple of Grand Slam finals, in particular earlier this year in the 2012 Australian Open final when she was bullied by Victoria Azarenka, that is usually because she is lacking confidence against a particular foe, rather than being overrun with nerves.
Sharapova has survived some career storms—right shoulder surgery sidelined her for nine months from 2008 to 2009, ravaging her once imposing serve and causing her ranking to plummet to No. 126. She’s rallied, but has suffered humbling thrashings in Grand Slam finals to Serena Williams, Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka. But through it all, Sharapova has never lost sight of her major dreams. When she steps onto Court Philippe Chatrier to face Sara Errani for the first time in tomorrow's French Open final, she'll be playing for more than her first Roland Garros title—she'll be playing for career-defining legacy.
Winning her first Roland Garros crown would complete the career Grand Slam and put Sharapova in rare air as one of only 10 women in history to consummate the milestone. She would also become the first Russian to master all four majors, and the first woman since Serena won the 2003 Australian Open to achieve the feat—a challenge that has eluded several elite champions, including Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, and Monica Seles. It would be an unprecedented crowning achievement to a committed comeback: Sharapova stands one victory away from becoming the first woman to master a major after undergoing surgery to her serving shoulder.
Whoever wins - it would be a wonderful 2012 Roland-Garros women's tournament. Watch Sharapova vs Errani French Open 2012 Women's Finals live online stream through B2LiveTV.com.