(March 15, 2013) Maria Sharapova reached her second straight BNP Paribas Open final by beating long-time friend and fellow Russian No. 13 seed Maria Kirlenko 6-4, 6-3. Sharapova will play Caroline Wozniacki on Sunday for the title. Each woman has won the championship once – Wozniacki in 2011 and Sharapova in 2006. This will be Sharapova’s first final of 2013.
With Friday’s win, Sharapova will move up to the No. 2 ranking, moving past Victoria Azarenka. Serena Williams is No.1.
“I think I made the first set a bit more difficult than it should have been. You know, I felt like it could have been up 4‑0,” Sharapova said.
“And she’s someone who has had a few comebacks in this tournament and really good results. I think this is her best tournament yet.
“So, yeah, I stepped it up in the second set, you know. First set was a little shady; second set was much better.”
“Still she had some double faults, like few in a row, and still I wasn’t able to break her, Kirilenko said.
“Well, I think the game was quite solid today, you know, from both of us. Just, you know, she was maybe get a little bit more lucky today somewhere.”
Kirilenko is expected to move up to No. 13 in the world as of Monday, a spot away from her career high of No. 12. “I can say only the positive stuff for this tournament, she said. “ I’m happy the way I’m playing, and so it’s mean that I’m moving to the right direction.”
On Wozniacki, her opponent in the final Sharapova said: “She’s always a tough opponent. You know, she’s a grinder. She makes you work really hard on the court and gets a lot of balls back, you know, and has a lot of different variety.
“You know, I certainly don’t want to give her that time or those opportunities, because she’s a really good player.”