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Sharapova returns to Stuttgart final, Li next

1:43 PM, Apr 27, 2013   |    comments
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Stuttgart, Germany (Sports Network) - Defending champion Maria Sharapova grinded out a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 win over third-seeded German Angelique Kerber in Saturday's semifinals at the $795,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

The top-seeded Sharapova struggled with her serve at times, committing six double faults during the two-hour, seven-minute match. However, she was able to run her winning streak on clay to 15 straight.

Sharapova is looking to become the first player since Lindsay Davenport (2004-05) to win back-to-back Stuttgart titles.

The 26-year-old Russian will be appearing in her third final this year after reaching the championship match at both Indian Wells and Miami in March. She captured her 28th career title at Indian Wells, but fell to 0-5 in Miami finals with a three-set loss to Serena Williams.

Later, China's Li Na posted a 6-4, 6-3 victory over American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands to set up a blockbuster final on Sunday.

The second-seeded Li opened the 2013 season by claiming her seventh career title at the inaugural Shenzhen Open.

Sharapova owns an 8-5 lifetime record against Li, but lost their most recent encounter in the semifinals of this year's Australian Open.

The 2013 Stuttgart champ will collect $130,000 and a new Porsche 911 Carrera.

The Sports Network

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