Paris, France – Saturday's marquee women's French Open final will pit world No. 1 Serena Williams against second-seeded and defending champion Maria Sharapova.
Thursday's semifinals saw Williams dismantle helpless fifth-seeded 2012 Roland Garros runner-up Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1 in a mere 46 minutes and Sharapova improve to 13-0 over the last two years at this Parisian major by outdueling Australian Open titlist Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 on the famed red clay in the French capital.
The determined Williams embarrassed Errani by striking 38 more winners (40-2) in one of the most lopsided semifinals in recent memory.
"If I play my best it's difficult to beat me," Williams said.
Williams is now a perfect 6-0 lifetime against Errani, which includes semifinal wins at the U.S. Open last year and Madrid last month.
"She played unbelievable," Errani said. "When she play like this is for me is difficult to play. She's very strong, so [there's] nothing to do."
The overmatched Errani is now 1-29 lifetime against top-five competition, with the win coming against fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Williams, whose lone French Open title came in 2002, was appearing in her first French semifinal since 2003. She was also the first American woman to reach the French semis since Jennifer Capriati in 2004 and is the first American woman to reach the French final since Williams herself turned the trick 11 years ago.
Williams is a 15-time Grand Slam singles titlist who is currently riding a career-best 30-match winning streak and is a perfect 22-0 on clay this year. She's also 73-3 overall since a stunning first-round loss to France's Virginie Razzano in last year's French Open, including titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, the second-seeded Russian superstar Sharapova held off her third- seeded fellow former world No. 1 Azarenka in the first women's semi.
In a match that featured the first rain delay since last Thursday, Sharapova blew away Azarenka in a lopsided first set, as the Belarusian opened the bout with a break of serve before the Russian embarked on a six-game winning streak to claim the stanza.
The second set was then all Azarenka before rain forced the players off the court for a short time.
When the women returned for the deciding third, Sharapova charged out to a 5-2 lead and was able to hold on from there.
Sharapova broke for a 3-2 edge in the third and consolidated the break with a hold in a very loud battle between two of the game's most notorious grunters.
The 6-foot-2 Sharapova broke again for the 5-2 advantage before Azarenka fought back with a break and a hold to pull within 4-5. Sharapova blew four match points in the eighth game of the stanza, but converted on a fifth in the 10th game by finally closing out Azarenka with a resounding ace.
The match was completed in 2 hours, 10 minutes, as Sharapova swatted 12 aces while also piling up 11 double faults, including four in one game on Day 12 of the fortnight. The Russian tallied 27 more winners (42-15) than Azarenka in advancing, but also misfired for 17 more unforced errors (39-22).
"I have never really thought about going out on the court and just trying to be consistent, not playing my game and just getting the ball back," Sharapova said. "That hasn't really ever been my philosophy, because the way that I win matches is by being aggressive, by moving my power, by looking to move forward and playing that aggressive game."
Sharapova is now 43-9 in her career at the French Open, which is best among active women.
The career Grand Slam winner improved to 8-8 in her major semifinals, while the reigning two-time Aussie Open champ and 2012 U.S. Open runner-up Azarenka fell to 3-3 in her Grand Slam semis, including her first-ever one at the French on Thursday.
"Today I'm disappointed about the match and what happened out there, but overall I have to give myself credit for going one step further," Azarenka said.
The 26-year-old Sharapova is now 6-7 lifetime against the 23-year-old Azarenka, including 1-2 in Grand Slam meetings and a perfect 3-0 mark on clay.
Sharapova reached her eighth career Grand Slam final and is seeking a fifth major championship. She's trying to become the first women's repeat French Open champ since Justine Henin in 2007.
Williams is 15-4 in her career Grand Slam finals, including 1-0 at the French. She owns 51 titles overall on the WTA, including five in six finals this year.
Sharapova will appear in her 51st career WTA-level final, seeking a 30th title. She's 2-2 in her 2013 finals, with the wins coming at Indian Wells and on a clay court in Stuttgart.
Williams is a commanding 13-2 lifetime against Sharapova, including 3-0 this year, with wins coming in finals in Miami and Madrid. The American stalwart is 3-1 in their Grand Slam meetings, with the Russian's victory coming in the 2004 Wimbledon finale. Williams defeated Sharapova in the 2007 Aussie Open final.
The mighty Williams, like Sharapova, is also the owner of a career Grand Slam.