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Maria Sharapova and Na Li in the final
Stuttgart. Maria Sharapova against Na Li, the No. 1 seed against the No. 2 – the final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in the sold-out Porsche Arena on Sunday could not have a better line-up. In a high class match, the defending champion from Russia ended Angelique Kerber’s dream of reaching the final whilst the Chinese downed the qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) in the second semifinal. Na Li and Maria Sharapova last faced each other in the round of the last four at this year’s Australian Open last four when the Chinese ran out the winner. “I want to change that result around,” said Maria Sharapova. “Whatever happens it’s gong to be a tough match.”
In the end the title-holder was too strong for Porsche Team Germany’s Angelique Kerber. A hard-fought 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 has prolonged the new Porsche brand ambassador’s winning streak in the Porsche Arena where she is yet to lose a match. “It was a great day for me,” she said. “The match was very tight. Angie played very well today.” The superstar from Russia was fully concentrated right from the outset and broke immediately to go 1-0 up and it was enough for her to wrap up the set 6-3. But Germany’s No. 1 didn’t give up. The 25-year-old, who in her four previous encounters with Sharapova has only managed to win one, fought back doggedly. She broke the favourite twice to win the set 6-2 and get back on level terms at one set all.
Much to the joy of the enthralled crowd, Angelique broke in the first game of the decisive final set and the defending champion appeared to be wobbling but then once again showed her tenacity and metal. She managed to re-break to level the score at 2-2. At 5-5 everything then went very quickly – Maria Sharapova served out a love game and then also took Angelique Kerber’s without losing a point. Seven points in a row and the last one was the match point which she converted. Two hours 7 minutes had elapsed and the title-holder left the court a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 winner. “Maria was more courageous than me in the last two games. In such situations she obviously profits from her greater experience,” said Angelique Kerber. “But I saw that I can win such matches. There wasn’t much in it today.”
Na Li had an easier passage to the final. She was never in any real danger against the American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who also played plucky attacking tennis and tried to run every ball down. The world No. 5 was too strong for the player from Phoenix/Arizona who is ranked 99 places behind her. Na Li was simply too consistent. At the same time she praised her opponent: “It was a tight match,” she said after the 6-4, 6-3 win, “Every game was tough.”
Two Porsche Team Germany players are in the doubles final: Mona Barthel and Sabine Lisicki. Their opponents are Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) and Sania Mirza (India), who beat the German pairing of Andrea Petkovic/Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-5.
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
12. December 89
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day