Sharapova not thinking of Serena record

The French Open has the women's final it wanted between two global superstars and both insist they will step out onto Court Philippe Chatrier with the slate wiped clean.

Serena Williams of the US and runner up Maria Shar

There is no doubt world number one Serena Williams goes into the match as favourite to beat Maria Sharapova for the 13th time in a row.

The American's nine-year winning streak over her rival would be reason enough, but added to that is her remarkable current form, the best of her life.

Since losing in the first round at Roland Garros a year ago, the 31-year-old has lost just three matches and none of her last 30, and yesterday she beat world number five Sara Errani 6-0 6-1 in 46 minutes.

Errani made only three unforced errors, she simply was not allowed to play, and Sharapova knows she must be at her peak for the whole match if she is to have a chance of winning a second straight title.

The Russian did win the first set when they met in Miami this year, one of only three she has managed since her last victory over Williams in 2004, but lost the third to love.

She said of her record: "If I was thinking about it, that wouldn't be a great mindset to go into the match.

"But, despite that record and despite me being unsuccessful against her, I'm happy to be setting up chances to be going out and facing her, someone that's been playing and dominating tennis for almost a year now.

"Her success has been incredible. But going into a French Open final, that doesn't matter. It all starts from zero. You've got to play until the last point and believe in yourself.

"No matter how good she's playing, you also have to give yourself a bit of credit for getting to that point and doing a few things right to be at that stage and giving yourself an opportunity. Whether you take it, that's another story."

Williams has been a woman on a mission all tournament, desperate to add a second French Open title to the one that kicked off her Serena slam in 2002.

She was impatient during her press conference yesterday, saying at one point: "These questions are just so redundant right now. Do we have anything else we want to ask?"

She did say of her record against Sharapova: "It's a different time, a different era, just a different match.

"It will really feel special. I have never played Maria here actually. It will be a great match I think for both of us. We both are doing so well and we both just really want to win. We're both really excited to be this far."

Williams is absolutely determined not to take anything for granted, adding of her title dreams: "It would be awesome for me. I don't think there's anything that can describe how happy I would be.

"But right now it's still a dream. I still have another match to play, hopefully to win. Two people are still fighting for the championship."

For Sharapova, meanwhile, her return to the final is confirmation that the woman once as comfortable on clay as a "cow on ice" feels at home on the red stuff.

"If someone had told me a few years ago, especially after some of the tough matches that I lost here in Paris, that I'd come back and be a champion at this tournament and come back and get to the final, I would be pretty excited," she said.

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