Sharapova reaches Key Biscayne final

Maria Sharapova lost her first service game when she

double-faulted three times. She kept spraying her shots, which

lacked their usual sting.

Then came the turnaround. After losing the first set Thursday,

Sharapova won 11 consecutive games and advanced to the final at the

Sony Ericsson Open by beating Andrea Petkovic, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2.

Sharapova’s opponent Saturday will be the winner of the match

Thursday night between 2009 champion Victoria Azarenka and No.

3-seeded Vera Zvonareva.

Sharapova seeks her first title since May 2010, and her first at

Key Biscayne. She was the runner-up in 2005 and 2006, and missed

the tournament in 2008-10 because of injuries.

The No. 21-seeded Petkovic dominated early, and the crowd began

to anticipate another performance of the Petko Dance, her victory

jig that became a tournament staple in the past week. Instead it

was Sharapova celebrating at the end, fists raised as she let out a

jubilant scream.

The No. 16-seeded Sharapova waged the turnaround by cutting down

on the errors that plagued her early in the match. She was

aggressive returning Petkovic’s serve and broke seven times, and

she moved well despite turning her left ankle late in her

quarterfinal win.

Petkovic had 11 game points in the second set but failed to

convert any as the match began to slip away.

Sharapova, a former No. 1 player who has struggled to stay

healthy in recent years, began this year ranked 18th and will

return to the top 10 next week.