Sharapova, Nadal reach Madrid final

Maria Sharapova survives a late rally from Agnieszka Radwanska, while Rafael Nadal thrashes Roberto Bautista.

    World number eight Maria Sharapova recovered to win in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 [AFP]
    World number eight Maria Sharapova recovered to win in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 [AFP]

    Maria Sharapova held her nerve Saturday to reach her second consecutive Madrid Open final, where she'll play Simona Halep of Romania.

    Sharapova was cruising against Agnieszka Radwanska before allowing the third-seeded Pole to break back in the second set. But the eighth-ranked Russian recovered to secure a 6-1, 6-4 win.

    Earlier, Halep rallied in the hot conditions to dispatch former champion Petra Kvitova 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2.

    "She's having a great year so it's going to be an extremely difficult match," Sharapova said of Halep.

    Despite a few blips, Sharapova has been steady all week and has lost just three times on clay since the 2011 French Open.

    All three of those losses came against Serena Williams, the two-time defending champion in Madrid who withdrew with a left thigh injury on Friday.

    Kvitova's inconsistency punished

    Kvitova, the 2011 winner, looked on course for victory before unforced errors and the rising temperatures took their toll.

    The Czech was 2-0 up in the second set and cruising against Halep, who was visibly frustrated after a late call went against her during the first-set tiebreaker.

    But Kvitova hit 66 unforced errors and that inconsistency caught up with her as Halep recovered, with the now composed Romanian hitting 22 winners and breaking Kvitova four times over the last two sets.

    Kvitova struggled in the final set, looking sapped of energy by the end of a match that lasted more than 2 ½ hours.

    "It's been an amazing week for me, I feel very well here in Madrid," said the fifth-ranked Halep, who reached her first Masters series final. "I played really well, I was striking the ball really well."

    Nadal cruises through

    In the men's tournament, Rafa Nadal continued his serene progress in pursuit of a second consecutive Madrid Open crown when he swept past Spanish compatriot Roberto Bautista 6-4 6-3 to secure a berth in the final.

    The world number one, chasing a 63rd career title and a 44th on clay, has not been on top form on his favoured surface this year, losing in the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

    However, he has shown glimpses of his dominant best in the Spanish capital as he warms up for a tilt at a record extending ninth French Open title starting at Roland Garros in Paris at the end of the month.

    SOURCE: AP


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