Miami: Maria Sharapova reached her first final in more than seven months with a 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Germany's Andrea Petkovic at the Sony Ericsson Open on Thursday.
After losing the opening set, Sharapova suddenly turned the match around, completely overwhelming her opponent with the kind of devastating form that took the Russian to the top of the world rankings four times between 2005 and 2008.
Petkovic, who had become the giantkiller of the Key Biscayne tournament, faded quickly and was unable to reproduce the brilliant tennis she uncorked in her wins over the current world number one Caroline Wozniacki and the former rankings leader Jelena Jankovic.
Petkovic was troubled by a rib injury but said that was not the reason for her lacklustre display against a ruthless Sharapova.
"The champions, they just feel any kind of weakness," Petkovic said.
"Even if you're not showing it or you think you're not showing it, they just feel it. That's what makes them so much better."
"I really think she felt it and she went for it and she exploited it. That's what she has to do."
Sharapova is currently ranked 13th in the world after returning from a long injury layoff but is assured of a place in the top 10 next week.
She has not won a WTA title since Strasbourg in May last year but her health and fitness has been steadily improving and this will be her fourth final since then. The Russian has also previously played in two finals at the Sony Ericsson Open, losing them both.
"I feel like I'm finding my form," the 23-year-old said.
"I really felt like with many matches and staying healthy that I would feel better and my (fitness) would start coming back to me and my tennis as well."
"I feel that that's playing out really well."
Sharapova's opponent in the final will be decided later on Thursday when her compatriot Vera Zvonareva faces Belarussian Victoria Azarenka.
First Published: Friday, April 01, 2011, 10:13