Maria Sharapova secured her place in the final of the Madrid Open for the second consecutive year with a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 win over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska on Saturday.
The four-time Grand Slam champion will face Romanian Simona Halep in Sunday’s final as she ground out a hard-fought 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-2 victory over fifth seed Petra Kvitova.
“I don’t think we’ve played for a really long time. She’s had such a great year and obviously she is the player to beat in the final,” said Sharapova.
“I’m looking forward to that matchup. No matter who I’m facing the toughest match is always the last one. You’ve just got to give everything you have out there.
“It’s great to be back in the final and give myself another opportunity.”
Sharapova has slowly begun to hit form in recent weeks on her return to clay conditions after a difficult start to the year and she stormed through the opening set for the loss of just 11 points.
“I really challenged myself to improve on clay courts because that was never my favourite surface in the beginning of my career,” added Sharapova.
“I’ve done a really good job of transitioning from the hard to the clay and really improving physically and recovering well from match to match.