Second seed and defending champion Maria Sharapova advanced to the Internazionali BNL d'Italia final with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Angelique Kerber. Her opponent in the title match will be seed number eight Li. Three of Sharapova's last five titles came on clay, while the only Grand Slam she hasn't won yet is the claycourt Roland Garros, the trophy Li lifted last year.
In both sets Sharapova broke Kerber's serve right away, and even though the twelfth-seeded German did manage to break back and keep herself in the match, Sharapova was in control throughout. The Russian's lead in winners was 27-9, while she committed one fewer unforced than her opponent.
Kerber can celebrate despite the defeat, as she will crack the Top 10 on Monday. Remember that only three months ago, in the quarterfinals of Paris, Kerber scored her first Top 10 win, and it was against Sharapova.
As for the other semifinal, Serena Williams made a precautionary withdrawal before her meeting with Li Na, stating a lower back injury. Serena said she was feeling stiff and decided not to force herself, even though it implied pausing her 17-0 winning streak. Nevertheless, Serena assured us that her participation at Roland Garros is certain. (photo: Francesca Moscatelli)