Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerMaria Sharapova and Maria Kirilenko (RUS)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Maria Sharapova defeated fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 62 63 on Friday to reach the Olympic women’s singles final at her first attempt.
Sharapova, who is making her Olympic debut at London 2012, was in control for the majority of her semifinal clash with Kirilenko, and wrapped up a straight sets victory in 1 hour 29 minutes on No. 1 Court.
Kirilenko, seeded No. 14, is a neat and tidy player, but the outcome always lay in the hands of Sharapova, and for the most part the world No. 3 dominated the match.
The opening set went with serve at the start, but Sharapova then moved up a gear to break in the sixth and eighth games, winning the set 6-2 in 36 minutes.
The second set also went with serve in the opening exchanges, but this time it was Kirilenko who drew first blood when Sharapova double faulted on break point in the fifth game.
However, Kirilenko couldn’t sustain it as her opponent stepped up a level once again. Two consecutive breaks did the job as Sharapova took the set 6-3 in 53 minutes, and with it the match.
Sharapova marches on to the final where she will face either reigning Wimbledon champion Serena Williams or world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who meet in their semifinal later today on Centre Court.
The gold medal match is scheduled for Saturday, when Kirilenko will also be back in action to compete for bronze.
In the mean time, Kirilenko will turn her attention to doubles with partner Nadia Petrova. The Russian duo have a semifinal showdown with the Williams sisters on Friday evening.
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