|Maria Sharapova reacts after winning fifth game in the third set against Vera Zvonareva during their semi-final round match of the 2011 Cincinnati Open tennis tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 20, 2011. (REUTERS/John Sommers II)
Mason, OH - Maria Sharapova made her second final at the $2.05 million Western & Southern Open in as many years, rallying to beat second seed Vera Zvonareva, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in an all-Russian semifinal Saturday night.
Sharapova, seeded fourth, will tangle with Serbian Jelena Jankovic in Sunday's title match. Jankovic, seeded 13th, toppled an injured Andrea Petkovic, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 in the last match of the evening of this U.S. Open Series event.
Zvonareva dominated the first set, but then lost the final three games of the second, double-faulting away the final contest. Sharapova won four straight games against an error-prone Zvonareva to take a 4-1 edge in the third and finished off the two-hour victory with a forehand winner.
The 2010 U.S. Open runner-up Zvonareva titled at this event in 2006 and was the Cincinnati runner-up in 2004.
A former world No. 1 and three-time major champion, Sharapova was last year's Cincy runner-up to U.S. Open champ Kim Clijsters and this year's Wimbledon runner-up to Czech left-hander Petra Kvitova.
Sharapova is gunning for her second championship this year and 24th of her career.
Petkovic, seeded ninth, played despite having a torn meniscus in her right knee. The ninth-seeded German wore a brace on her knee and managed to grab a 4-2 lead in the opening set, only to give back the ensuing three games. Petkovic won a point seldom seen in tennis, when her return clipped the net with the ball somehow rolling on top of it before falling on Sharapova's side of the court.
That point forced a tiebreaker, but Jankovic controlled it and the second set.
Jankovic, who won the Cincinnati title in 2009, will try for her 13th career title and first this year. She's just 1-5 all-time against Sharapova. The Russian grabbed the most recent meeting, a title match in Tokyo in 2009. It will be their fourth encounter in a final.
Sunday's champion will collect $360,000.