Maria Sharapova has beaten rival Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 6-4 to make the final of the WTA premier mandatory China Open in Beijing. In the final she will meet Petra Kvitova who survived a three set clash with Sam Stosur 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.
It was a classic tale of revenge for Sharapova. The last time she played Ana Ivanovic in a premier mandatory event was in Cincinnati back in August. Again, that match took place in the semi-finals, but that time Ivanovic saved match points as she fought to victory.
This match was an altogether different affair. Sharapova took the first set 6-0 and then broke immediately at the start of the second set to take a commanding set and a break lead. Ivanovic fought back, though, broke for 1-1 and then stayed with Sharapova to 4-4. It was then that Sharapova reasserted herself as she broke for 5-4.
Ivanovic would not go away though and embroiled Sharapova into a ten minute final game as she attempted to upset Sharapova for the third time this season after wins in Rome and Cincinnati. However, Sharapova held tough and got the win.
In the final, Sharapova will face Kvitova. The Czech is back in form this Asian swing after her Wimbledon mini slump. Fans feared the world No. 3 might experience a slump of the kind she experienced after her Wimbledon win in 2011, but Kvitova did not disappoint this season as she took the Premier title in Wuhan last week after something of a letdown in this season’s U.S Open Series. Her good form has continued into this week. as has her fighting spirit, as she followed up her three set win over Roberta Vinci in the quarters with a tough victory against Stosur.
The Sharapova-Kvitova clash will be the 7th meeting between the two in a head to head led 5-2 by the Russian. Kvitova, though, has the biggest win in their rivalry- the 2011 Wimbledon final victory, giving her a 1-0 lead in finals between the two. Finals are where Kvitova brings her A game- she is 7-0 in her biggest finals which includes 2 grand slams, 1 Year End Championships (YEC) title (Istanbul 2011) and 4 Premier titles. That stat may play into her favor as Sharapova has lost many a big final and is prone to nerves when things get tight. And while few players are able to win when playing badly in big matches as Sharapova is, if Kvitova comes out swinging and on her game, the match could be over quickly for the Russian.
Sharapova and Kvitova will not only be playing for the title, however. The WTA ranking of No. 2 is also up for grabs. Simona Halep, who currently sits in the second spot, will vacate that spot after the event, and either Sharapova or Kvitova will take it along with the China Open title. And with Serena Williams laid up with a left knee injury, and losing her China Open victory points from last season, and in danger of losing her YEC defending champion points, the world No.1 spot could soon be up for grabs for either woman. With a lot to play for, the China Open women’s final 2014 between Sharapova and Kvitova promises to be a tense and exciting affair which no WTA fan will want to miss.
Commentary by Christian Deverille