It didn't take a lot of imagination to believe that Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep would end up together in the Roland Garros final. Unless, of course, you're a member of the U.S. tennis media, in which case, perhaps you're still sitting there a bit slack-jawed. The 2012 champion, seeded 7th at the event, did "that thing" again today--dropped a set, picked right up in the next set, and won the third set 6-2. Genie Bouchard apparently didn't get the memo about needing to beat 'Pova in straights if she were to have a chance.
It was a pretty good match, as far as these types of matches go. Bouchard played a great first set, letting Sharapova look into a mirror and see all her own signature shots come right back at her--often as winners. The Canadian was aggressive and she was accurate, which is a deadly combination in tennis. She eventually caved, though. And you have to wonder whether part of her was just waiting for it to happen. Sharapova's ability to pull comebacks at this tournament is scary.
The thing is, Sharapova didn't really play at that high a level throughout much of today's semifinal, making it theoretically easier for the very motivated Genie Bouchard to carve away at the Russian's confidence, as well as her game. But that's just theory. The fact was, Sharapova had very recent memories of making big match comebacks in both the round of 16 and the quarterfinals. The knowledge that she could do it helped her to do it again. Bouchard is a real talent, and her ascent is very impressive, but Sharapova had history on her side--tennis history and her personal history. She hit harder, found more angles and moved better when the time came that she had to fight to survive.
Sharapova's 4-6, 7-5 6-2 victory places her in the final for a third consecutive year.
For Simona Halep, this is new territory. Halep expertly defeated a nervous Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 7-6. Petko had her moments, and some of the rallies were very exciting, but in the end, Halep--once again--knew how to win. Halep had first and second serve win percentages of 75 and 56.
The 4th seed has yet to drop a set at Roland Garros. By the end of today's match, she had bits of clay all over her, which made me think briefly of Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who used to leave the court with part of the court sticking to her body.