Maria Sharapova hopes to claim her first title of the season in Sunday’s Stuttgart claycourt final against top seed Victoria Azarenka following her semi-final win over Petra Kvitova.
In Saturday’s last four tie, world number two Sharapova needed just under two hours to see off Kvitova to claim revenge for her defeat in the 2011 Wimbledon final and secure a 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) victory.
Having lost to world number one Azarenka twice already in the three finals she has contested this season, the Russian is hoping for fourth-time lucky on Sunday with 115,000 dollars plus a new sports car on offer for the winner.
Sharapova broke her Czech opponent in the fifth game in the first set and the 11th of the second, after Kvitova had earlier missed a chance for a set point, before the world number three broke back.
Sharapova failed to serve out at 6-5 up as the second set went to a tie-break when the Russian held her nerve having raced into a 3-0 lead and said she is looking forward to facing Azarenka in the final.
Sharapova will claim the 25th title of her career if she beats Azarenka.
Azarenka booked her place in the final with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska.
It was the fifth time this year Azarenka had beaten the Pole having already seen off the world number four on hardcourt in Sydney, at the Australian Open, Doha and Indian Wells.
It was their first meeting on clay, but Azarenka needed just 24 minutes to blitz Radwanska to take the first set as the Polish number one managed just 11 points.
In the second, the Belarusian kept up the pressure with an impressive selection of shots, but despite claiming her tenth overall victory over Radwanska in just 77 minutes, Azarenka insisted it had been far from easy.