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Maria Sharapova comes into the semifinal off the Rome Open, aiming to go all the way and defend her title. But standing in her way is the in-form German Angelique Kerber who beat World No.4 Petra Kvitova in three sets in her previous match.
Sharapova has had a decent year so far as she has reached the finals and also won her first tournament of the year at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. She started the season at the Australian Open and was on song until the final where she was outclassed by World No.1 Victoria Azarenka. In March, she managed to reach the finals of both Indian Wells and the Miami Sony Ericsson Open but was beaten on both occasions. She finally got some payback from her arch-rival at the high-profile Stuttgart event, when she beat Azarenka in the final of the event. Sharapova brushed aside all her opponents at the Mutua Madrid Open too, up until she met Serena Williams in the quarterfinal stage, where Serena absolutely thrashed the Russian. In the quarters, Maria was impressive as she dispatched Venus Williams in straight sets. She comes into the event looking for her second tournament this year and has a win-loss record of 27-5 so far.
After a disappointing campaign in Madrid, her opponent here today, Angelique Kerber is back. The German has been playing some really high quality tennis this year, and has a good 32-9 win-loss record. She has already won a couple of titles this year as she keeps improving. With her win over Petra Kvitova in the quarters, she cracked the Top 10 in the world for the first time. She is now the seventh German to be a part of that elite group. The German is a fighter and never backs down from any challenge, and a serve like hers to go with, makes her a dangerous prospect for the Russian. In another surprising statistic, Kerber has won her last 6 meetings against the top 10 and Maria would be aware of that. Her quarterfinal victory was a seesaw battle, where she finally prevailed over the World No.4 in three sets 7-6,1-6,6-1.
The two have just met twice with each holding a victory to their names. What makes this an even more enticing contest is that this will be their first meeting on clay.
TennisEarth predicts Sharapova edging out Kerber in a close match.
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