Sharapova the overwhelming favourite to claim career Grand Slam
If Maria Sharapova defeats Italian Sara Errani in the French Open Final on Saturday, she will become only the 10th woman in the history of tennis to complete a career Grand Slam. Her opponent, Errani, will compete in her first final, having a previous career-best of reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. More known for her career in doubles, Errani has had a stellar 2012 to date, seeing her achieve a career-high of world number ten.
Russian-born Sharapova has a mixed record in finals of major tournaments, winning half of her six matches to date. Her most recent triumph came back in 2008 at the Australian Open with a straight-sets victory over Ana Ivanovic, adding to her first Grand Slam title at the age of 17 at Wimbledon, as well as success at Flushing Meadows in 2006.
Errani on the other hand, who honed her skills in Florida from the tender age of 12 after being sent by her father, has had a far from meteoric rise up until now. However, at the age of 25, the 5ft 4in clay specialist, who came into the tournament ranked 24 in the world, now comes under the spotlight for the biggest game of her career. The Italian has shown tremendous heart throughout the two weeks, recovering from conceding a set in three of her matches en route to the final. This fighting spirit was further exposed in the ladies’ doubles final on Friday, recovering from a set down to take the title a day before the biggest day of her tennis life. Should she be victorious on Saturday, she would be the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000, to win both titles in the same year.
Is it possible? If Sharapova continues to serve as consistently as she has done, it could be over all too quickly for the Italian supporters. Already guaranteed to become the new world number one, and with her dramatic improvements in footwork there for all to see, Errani will have to adopt a more aggressive tactic than she is used to in order to stay close to the big-hitting Sharapova. The Russian superstar however seems to have matured and nerves that have blighted previous match-ups, now look like a distant memory.