Maria Sharapova and Carla Suarez Navarro to meet in Italian Open final
Last Updated: 17/05/15 9:05am
Spanish 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro kept herself in contention for only her second career title by squeezing past Simona Halep of Romania 2-6 6-3 7-5 and into the final of the Italian Open on Saturday.
Halep, who had ended the hopes of Venus Williams in the third round before sweeping compatriot Alexandra Dulgheru aside in the quarter-finals, was unstoppable in the first set.
But the Romanian fell victim to unforced errors throughout a second set that saw her Spanish opponent level the match.
It could have gone either way in the decider after Suarez took her lead to 6-5 in the final set.
But the 26-year-old Spaniard secured match point with a great shot down the right hand side of the court with Halep stranded at the net, and sealed the win when the Romanian netted a return.
Maria Sharapova had to work extremely hard to defeat fellow Daria Gavrilova 7-5 6-3 in their semi-final. The Russian leaving the court after the 11th game for treatment to an abdominal muscle injury and was clearly hampered on her return.
"She was obviously affected by it when serving," Sharapova said. "But once you got into the rallies she moved and defended very well."
Suarez Navarro is the form player on the WTA Tour this year with 31 wins but she was two points away from losing in the 10th game of the final set before turning the tide.
"It was such a tough match from a physical standpoint," she said. "The biggest improvement I've made this year is in my mind."