Sharapova: In love and in the final

Story highlights

  • Maria Sharapova will play Serena Williams in Sunday's final of Madrid event
  • The winner will be world No. 1 when latest rankings are released next week
  • Sharapova admits that she is dating Bulgarian men's player Grigor Dimitrov
  • Rafael Nadal reaches his seventh successive final in the men's tournament

Life is good for Maria Sharapova right now. She's won two titles this year, added a new lucrative new sponsorship deal -- and has finally confessed to tennis' worst-kept secret, that she is dating young men's star Grigor Dimitrov.

They were caught kissing in Madrid the day after he beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and she playfully wrote on a television camera after her Friday quarterfinal win in the Spanish capital: "How did you catch us??"

While the 21-year-old Dimitrov was unable to follow up his shock victory, Sharapova has cruised into the final of the women's tournament after beating former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-3 on Saturday.

"We're official. We've been seeing each other for a while," the world No. 2, who has been fending off questions about their relationship since January, told reporters after the 500th victory of her career.

Read: The man behind Maria's millions

"You know, it's just news to us that someone took a picture of us now after this time. It's nice to have something in life that you're able to have for yourself, because so much of your lives are in the public eye."

The story behind Sharapova's success
The story behind Sharapova's success


    The story behind Sharapova's success


The story behind Sharapova's success 06:26
Can 'Baby Federer' become a champion?
Can 'Baby Federer' become a champion?


    Can 'Baby Federer' become a champion?


Can 'Baby Federer' become a champion? 04:54

Sharapova has never before played in the final of the Madrid tournament, and faces a daunting task if she is to lift the trophy on Sunday.

Her opponent is defending champion Serena Williams, who has the beaten Russian in their last 11 meetings -- including March's final in Miami, where the American came back from losing the opening set.

"It's always tough against her," said Sharapova, who will reclaim the top ranking if she can win her 50th career WTA final.

"I haven't had a win against her in a long time, but the great thing is I'm setting myself up in a position where I can try to change that around.

Read: Nadal battles into semifinals

"I thought I did really well against her in Miami for the first set and a half -- obviously that's not enough, but the goal is to keep that level for the whole match this time.

"It's been a while since we played on a clay court, too, and every match is different -- a different tournament and a different environment. I'm looking forward to it."

Williams won last year's event when it was held on blue clay -- an unpopular experiment that was later banned by the tennis authorities -- but she has not played in a final on red dirt since 2002.

"I feel like this whole tournament I've only played clay-court players from my first round to now, and everyone was also smaller than me," the 31-year-old said after Saturday's 7-5 6-2 win over Italian seventh seed Sara Errani -- beaten by Sharapova in last season's French Open final.

"So I think tomorrow will be a really good match -- a different game, more power obviously, but still a lot of the consistency. So I'm looking forward to it."

Read: Federer humbled by Nishikori

World No. 1 Williams is seeking to become just the 10th player to win 50 WTA titles, in her 66th final.

"Obviously I love being No. 1 -- in my heart I feel I'm No. 1. But I also love to win tournaments. So I think if I just win as many tournaments as I can, I'll be No. 1. Hopefully."

In the men's tournament, Rafael Nadal cruised into Sunday's final with a 6-0 6-4 win over 113th-ranked compatriot Pablo Andujar.

The Spaniard, who has now reached seven successive finals since his comeback from knee injury in February, will next face Swiss 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka.

Wawrinka, who beat Dimitrov in the third round, earned his place in the final with a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory against world No. 6 Tomas Berdych in just under two hours.

Nadal, who won the tournament in 2005 and 2010, is seeking a record-extending 23rd Masters-level title. He was also the runner-up in 2009 and 2011.


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