Maria Sharapova stamps her authority in Brisbane
Top seed Maria Sharapova stamped her authority on the Brisbane International when she downed Ukraine`s Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3 in the semi-finals on Friday.
Brisbane: Top seed Maria Sharapova stamped her authority on the Brisbane International when she downed Ukraine`s Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3 in the semi-finals on Friday.
Sharapova was in magnificent touch as she disposed of Svitolina to set up a dream final against Serbia`s Ana Ivanovic on Saturday.
The Russian world number two also showed she will be a serious contender to win her second Australian Open when the year`s first Grand Slam begins in just over a week.
Svitolina, 20, is considered a rising star of the women`s game.
She showed tremendous fighting spirit to defeat third seed Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals when she came back from losing the first set.
But she had no answer to Sharapova`s power and precision, despite a late fightback at 5-1 down in the second set which saw her save four match points.
"She`s an up and comer -- top 30 in the world and only 20 years of age," Sharapova said.
"I knew she was going to come out and be competitive and fierce, and we saw that tonight."
Sharapova is using the tournament as preparation for Melbourne and said she was feeling confident ahead of the Australian Open.
"I`m a step further ahead than last year when I lost in the semis (in Brisbane). It`s great to be in the final, I`ll just go and give it everything I have," she said.
Ivanovic reached the Brisbane final for the first time in four attempts when she saw off tenacious American Varvara Lepchenko 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.
The Serb appeared cruising for an easy win when she went ahead 5-1 in the second set.
But Lepchenko, who fought back from a similar position to beat Samantha Stosur in the first round, began to swing freely when her back was against the wall.
Ivanovic faltered under the pressure of the American`s groundstrokes and dropped her serve to allow Lepchenko back into the set.
The American continued to go for broke, and saved six match points as she closed to 5-4.
However, Ivanovic at last held her nerve and took the match in one hour and 53 minutes.
Ivanovic conceded that she had begun to worry that she wouldn`t be able to close the match out.
"Definitely my heart was racing a little bit, especially as it was really becoming a battle," she said.
"All the way up to that point, even though I was 5-1 up, it still felt like a battle all the way through.
"I really tried to take it one point at a time and do the things that I`ve been working on and practising and try not think too much about the score."
Sharapova and Ivanovic played four times in 2014 with two wins apiece.
"The results last year went back and forth and we had some tough three-setters," Sharapova said.