Sharapova tops Wozniacki in Rome semis
Maria Sharapova outslugged top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 6-3 to advance to the final against Sam Stosur, last year's French Open runner-up. The Australian beat fourth-seeded Li Na of China 7-6 (6), 6-0.
''Every year I feel better and better (on clay),'' Sharapova said, adding that she also recovers quicker now between tough matches on the surface.
The seventh-seeded Sharapova will be playing her second final of the year, having fallen to Victoria Azarenka in Miami in March. Besides her father, Yuri, Sharapova began working with a new coach — former Swedish pro Thomas Hogstedt — at the start of the year.
Early in the second set, Sharapova fell stomach-first to the clay chasing down a shot. That point gave Wozniacki a 2-0 lead, but Sharapova won the final five games and raised both arms and gave a big smile after landing a forehand return winner on her first match point.
Stosur hadn't reached a final since losing to Francesca Schiavone at Roland Garros last year, which she said affected her psyche.
''I was very disappointed and I had to look at the positive side because I had a very good tournament as well. But, at that time, it is not always easy to see those things,'' Stosur said. ''I have played some good matches and tournaments in the past 12 months, but I just was not able to get the last bit again. So now that I am better, I am excited to be there.''