New No. 1 Sharapova on verge of career grand slam at French Open

Story highlights

  • Maria Sharapova beats Petra Kvitova to reach French Open final for first time
  • Russian will rise to world No. 1 in the new rankings issued next week
  • She will be trying to complete a collection of all four grand slam titles
  • Sara Errani beats Sam Stosur to give Italy third successive final appearance

Maria Sharapova stands on the brink of tennis history after romping into her first French Open final on Thursday.

The second seed's straight-sets win over Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova not only ensured she will reclaim the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in four years, but also gave her the chance to become just the 10th female player to complete a career grand slam.

Standing in the Russian's way of emulating the likes of greats such as Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Serena Williams is the 2012 tournament's surprise package, Sara Errani.

Ranked 23rd in the world, Errani continued her dream run by beating 2010 Roland Garros runner-up and reigning U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in Thursday's opening semifinal.

It means Italy will be represented for the third year in a row, after Francesca Schiavone lifted her first and only grand slam title on the Paris clay in 2010 and then lost to Li Na 12 months ago.

Sharapova reached Saturday's title match with a ruthless 6-3 6-3 win over Czech fourth seed Kvitova, going some way to erasing memories of her defeat in last year's Wimbledon final.

Hantuchova expects Sharapova victory
Hantuchova expects Sharapova victory


    Hantuchova expects Sharapova victory


Hantuchova expects Sharapova victory 02:43
Sharapova ready for tough clay challenge
Sharapova ready for tough clay challenge


    Sharapova ready for tough clay challenge


Sharapova ready for tough clay challenge 04:36

The 25-year-old last won a grand slam title at the 2008 Australian Open, before serious shoulder injuries forced her into a long rehab. She made the Paris semis for the second time last year, and has already reached one major final this year.

Defeat to Victoria Azarenka in Melbourne in January cost her the No. 1 ranking, but on Monday she will rise above the Belorussian no matter what happens in her first career clash with Errani.

"It's an amazing feeling to be in my first final. I have been in two semifinals but it was always my dream of getting to the final stage," said Sharapova, who won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004 and then the U.S. Open in 2006.

"That's pretty special. After my shoulder surgery, my ranking was out of the top 100, but I thought if I could be number one in the world before that then I could do it again."

Errani had lost all five previous meetings with Stosur, but she continued the form that saw her beat world No. 10 Angelique Kerber and former French Open champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic in earlier rounds.

"I didn't think I could do this coming into the tournament. Never. This is just incredible for me," said Errani, who will become only the third woman from Italy to ever rank in the top 10 after Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta.

"The first round here was difficult, this match was difficult, all the matches have been difficult, and I'm very happy how I've played.

"The most important thing for me is I'm just thinking about playing -- I'm just playing my game without thinking of what I'm doing. But I'm not finished."

Sixth seed Stosur had been seeking to become the first Australian woman since Margaret Court in 1973 to win the tournament.

Meanwhile, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza won their second grand slam mixed doubles title together after beating Mexico's Santiago Gonzalez and Poland's Klaudia Jans-Ignacik 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 in the final.

The Indian duo also won the Australian Open in 2009, while the 38-year-old Bhupathi is one of the most successful doubles players ever with 12 titles overall.