STUTTGART, Germany - Defending champion Maria Sharapova and Li Na will contest a Stuttgart WTA final featuring the past two French Open champions.
The Russian top seed Sharapova had to go the full distance again in yesterday's semi-finals for a 6-3, 2-6 7-5 victory over German third seed Angelique Kerber.
China's Li, the second seed, ended the strong run of American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4 6-3 at the indoor clay event which is the first major tuneup for the next French Open starting in late May.
Sharapova maintained her 100 per cent record in Stuttgart, where she won on her debut last year and went on to triumph at the French Open to complete a career grand slam.
She holds an 8-5 lead in matches against Li, who beat Sharapova in the semis in Paris 2011 before becoming the first Asian player to lift a grand slam singles title. Sharapova won their only final, 2012, in Rome, Li their last match in the Australian Open semis.
"I am pleased the way I played in the first set and came back in the third. I am happy I came through and fought in the third," Sharapova said.
Sharapova has been stretched to three sets in all her three games at the tournament.