ROME: Simona Halep profited from a miserable day on serve for Maria Sharapova to reach the Italian Open final with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 defeat of the five-time Grand Slam winner on Saturday.
The Romanian world number one will bid for the title on Sunday against Elina Svitolina in a repeat of last year´s final won by the Ukrainian.
Svitolina booked her spot as she dominated Anett Kontaveit to win 6-4, 6-3 in just 74 minutes.
Halep fought back from a set down to win only her second match against Sharapova, who may have been feeling the effects of a three-hour victory the day before and was broken 10 times.
Halep has now defeated the Russian twice in a row having lost their seven previous meetings.
“She plays tough, it´s difficult to return against her,” Halep said. “I tried to play my game, I didn´t think about our past.
“I did what I had to do, I changed tactics after the first set and it worked very well for me.
“Against Svitolina I must play my best, and we will see what happens.”
Sharapova was burdened by nine double faults over a match lasting almost two and a half hours, taking her cumulative time on court to well over 12 hours this week.
“I think I battled well, it´s always going to be a physical match against Simona,” Sharapova said.
“Despite all things, I was there physically. No problems with that whatsoever.
“There are a lot of good things that I can take away from a week like this. Considering it´s been a third tournament in weeks, that´s a very good thing personally for me.”
Sharapova will still earn a seeding at Roland Garros, starting next Sunday, while Halep will remain number one ahead of Caroline Wozniacki.
Sharapova was playing her second semi-final of the season and should move back into the top 30 as a result.