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.


    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.