Never known for her acumen on clay courts, and considered by many to be "finished" because of injury and confidence issues--Maria Sharapova, the self-proclaimed clay court Cow on Ice--has made it to the final of the Italian Open. Sharapova defeated top seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 6-3 in the semifinals, hitting 36 winners along the way. Of course, this isn't the first time that Sharapova has "failed to meet expectations" on clay. Last year, she played a gritty third round French Open match against Justine Henin, and took Henin to three sets.
The world number 1 has never won a red clay tournament. During this year's red clay season, she has fallen to Julia Goerges twice, and now to Sharapova. Wozniacki did win this year's Family Circle Cup, which is played on green clay.
Sharapova's opponent in the final will be 2010 French Open runner-up Sam Stosur, who defeated Li Na 7-6, 6-0 in the semifinals. Stosur has looked kind of flat lately, but her game has come to life in Rome, and the final will probably be a good one.
In the doubles semifinals, 3rd seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova defeated 2nd seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 7-6, 62, and Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie defeated Alexandra Dulgheru and Jarmila Gadjosova 3-6, 6-4, 10-5.