Simona Halep is through to a grand slam final for the first time in her career with a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) victory over Andrea Petkovic at the French Open.
Halep, seeded fourth in Paris, eased through the first set and then fought off a comeback bid from her German opponent to set up a showdown for the title on Saturday against Maria Sharapova.
The win continues a remarkable turnaround in form for the Romanian, who was beaten in the first round at Roland Garros 12 months ago. Since then she has won seven titles on the WTA Tour, while she is yet to drop a set at the French this year.
Sharapova stands in her way of a first major triumph, the Russian having come from a set down in the opening semi-final to see off Eugenie Bouchard of Canada by a 4-6 7-5 6-2 scoreline.
Both Halep and Petkovic were playing in a grand slam semi-final for the first time and the contest capped incredible turnarounds for both players over the last year.
While Halep was ranked 57th and lost in the first round, Petkovic did not even make it through qualifying in 2013 and considered quitting tennis as she tried to battle back from a series of injuries.
The German appeared to be the more nervous of the two and Halep won the first set in just 28 minutes, Petkovic’s wayward groundstrokes being ruthlessly punished by her opponent.
Petkovic did find a response in the second set, although after breaking Halep early on she threw away the advantage in the next game with a string of unforced errors.
She was a match for the Romanian throughout the rest of the set as the pair traded powerful groundstrokes en route to the tie-break.
In the breaker Halep proved to be the stronger as Petkovic’s errors were again her undoing, leaving her opponent to wrap up the win in 90 minutes.