Russia's Maria Sharapova is set to battle China's Li Na in the final of Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2013 (Photo : Reuters)
Former world's no.1 Maria Sharapova punched her way back to the final of the Stuttgart Open after edging Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-3, 2-6 7-5 in Saturday's nail-biting semis match at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, Germany.
The 25-year-old Sharapova endured another three-set battle for the third consecutive match, but the Russian beauty seemed to always find her way to victory.
Sharapova logged 3 hours and 9 minutes to dispatch Czech's Lucie Safarova in the second round, 2 hours and 2 minutes to beat Serbia's Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinal before surviving another 2 hours and 2 minutes of intense battle against Kerber.
"I am pleased the way I played in the first set and came back in the third. I am happy I came through and fought in the third," Sharapova told the Associated Press.
Sharapova recorded 42 winners in her win against Kerber, but her 44 unenforced errors allowed Kerber to stretch the match.
Facing Sharapova in the championship round is China's Li Na, who ended a strong campaign from American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 6-3 in the other semis match.
Sharapova holds an 8-5 head-to-head record against Li, though Chinese tennis star beat the Russian in the semifinals of the 2011 French Open on her way to becoming the first ever Asian to win a Grand Slam title.
Stuttgart kicked start Sharapova's clay-court campaign last season, which saw her bagging her first title at Rolland Garros.
"It is too early to talk about the French Open, there are still several weeks and tournaments. I never like to compare years, it's a different situation, different players," Sharapova told the Associated Press.
Li Na is looking forward for an exciting and competitive final with Sharapova on Sunday.
"Maria is very aggressive. Every time it has been tough (against her)," she added in reference to Sunday's final," Li Na told the Associated Press.
Sunday's final showdown will feature the duel between the last two French Open champions, making it another reason to see the match.
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