Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Maria Sharapova in the way of Helep's first Slam title

Maria Sharapova is looking to win another Grand Slam
Maria Sharapova is looking to win another Grand Slam

Simona Halep hopes her desire for revenge against Maria Sharapova can help carry her to a maiden grand slam title at the French Open today.

Sharapova is the title favourite but Halep has undoubtedly played the better tennis at Roland Garros and is yet to drop a set.

The Romanian had only previously made one grand slam quarter-final but, on the back of a stellar 12 months, she will reach number three in the rankings on Monday.

Halep has won seven titles in that time, more than anyone except Serena Williams, and she came close to adding an eighth in Madrid last month.

The player who stopped her was Sharapova, the Russian winning in three sets after Halep had taken the first 6-1.

"I have to take that revenge," said Halep. "I will fight for this one. I played a really good match in Madrid first set. I started really well. I was very fast on court, and I opened the angles very well.

"But she came back very, very well and she hit strong, stronger than me at that moment. Now I have to be aggressive again, to play fast, my style, and to stay there with the nerves.

"I have nothing to lose. I will keep this in my mind always. I will try to hit relaxed. I know that it will be very tough to manage the emotions, but I will try my best."

While Halep has breezed her way through the draw, Sharapova has needed to show her famous fighting spirit.

The Russian has battled back from a set down in each of her last three matches, her victory over Eugenie Bouchard on Thursday the 19th successive three-set match she has won on clay.

"A lot of times in my career I've felt better coming off those matches knowing that I might not have played my best tennis, but I came through and I'm finding myself playing for another major."

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