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Sharapova back in French Open finals

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her women’s semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard of Canada at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on Thursday. (Reuters)

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her women’s semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard of Canada at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on Thursday. (Reuters)

PARIS — Maria Sharapova booked her place in the French Open final for the third year in a row when she beat up-and-coming Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 4-6 7-5 6-2 on Thursday.

The Russian seventh seed, who lifted the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in 2012 and lost in last year’s final, will take on either Romanian fourth seed Simona Halep or German Andrea Petkovic, the 28th seed.

Struggling with her serve, Sharapova, who is 18-1 on the red dirt this season, dropped the first set before playing deeper to level the contest, outrunning the 18th-seeded Bouchard in the third.

Sharapova has now won the last 19 three-set matches she has played on clay since losing to Justine Henin in the third round at Roland Garros in 2010.

“She played an unbelievable match, her level was extremely high … I’m just very lucky to be the winner,” Sharapova told reporters.

Bouchard, who was inspired to play after watching Sharapova at an early age, took first blood, breaking serve and playing her opponent at her own game by pushing her into the corners before the Russian broke back for 4-4.

The Canadian, in her second major semi-final this year, immediately broke back and took the set when Sharapova sent a backhand wide. Despite Sharapova’s service games being peppered with double faults, last year’s runner-up turned up the heat and squeezed out the second set on her fifth set point to send her third straight match in Paris into a decider.

In the third, she upped the aggression another notch, leaving Bouchard at times staring after the ball with a slight shrug despite the grit she showed to go toe-to-toe with the woman she had once put on a pedestal.