Paris, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Fourth-seeded Simona Halep landed in her first career Grand Slam final, while former titlist Maria Sharapova secured a berth in a third straight French Open championship match.
Halep handled 28th-seeded German Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), in Thursday's nightcap and the seventh-seeded former world No. 1 star Sharapova outlasted 18th-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, both on Court Chatrier.
Playing in their first-ever Grand Slam semifinals, Halep blew past a nervous Petkovic in the first set on Thursday before the German tightened things up in the second. The young Romanian, however, would not be denied, as she forced a second-set tiebreak, which she won handily to advance in 1 hour, 29 minutes.
The 22-year-old Halep is now 3-1 lifetime versus the 26-year-old Petkovic, who tallied 16 more unforced errors (36-20) in the setback. The Romanian had 21 more winners (77-56) and broke her German counterpart three times, compared to only one break for "Petko."
The in-form Halep has yet to lose a set through six matches here.
In Thursday's opener, an aggressive Bouchard outplayed Sharapova in sneaking out the first set, but the Russian veteran clawed back in the second and ultimately converted on a fifth set point to level the match. Sharapova blew three of the set points while leading 5-3 in the stanza.
The third set, however, was dominated by Sharapova, who got a key break to grab a 3-1 lead and then cruised from there. Bouchard would save four match points to no avail, as a fifth was the result of a Sharapova forehand winner that skidded off the baseline past the young Canadian.
The Russian came out on top in 2 hours, 27 minutes despite misfiring with nine double faults. Bouchard piled up 13 more unforced errors (48-35) on Day 12 of the fortnight, as the fierce Sharapova has now won her last 10 three-set matches.
"I would love to win those matches in two sets, but I always feel like I put in the work to be ready to play whatever it takes," Sharapova said. "If it takes three hours to win the match in three sets, I will be ready for that.
"If some things are not working out, I don't just want to quit in the middle. Because when you lose the first set or a few games or you're down a break, that's not the end of the match. That's the type of philosophy that I play with."
The 27-year-old Sharapova is now 3-0 lifetime against Bouchard, including a second-round win at the French last year.
The rising 20-year-old Bouchard has appeared in the semifinals at both of this year's Grand Slams.
"It's always disappointing to be a little bit off," Bouchard said. "I felt like I was trying to do what I wanted to do, which was to be aggressive. But often I constructed the point well and then didn't finish it as well as I could."
The 6-foot-2 Sharapova completed the career Grand Slam with a title here in 2012 and lost to Serena Williams in last year's marquee finale.
She will appear in her ninth Grand Slam championship match (4-4) and 54th overall career final (31-22). The Russian is 2-1 in her 2014 finals, with both victories coming on clay in Madrid and Stuttgart.
Sharapova is 18-1 on clay this year and has lost only four matches on the surface since 2012, with three of the losses coming against Williams. Fellow former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic upset the Russian on some clay in Rome last month.
The veteran Sharapova is 3-0 lifetime against Halep, including a win on clay in the final in Madrid just last month.
Halep has captured a whopping seven WTA titles over the last 13 months, second only to Williams, and she's the only woman to have won titles on clay, grass and hard courts during that stretch.
The graceful Romanian is 7-4 in her career WTA finals, including 1-1 this season.
06/05 14:28:25 ET