Can Sharapova complete the career Slam?

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Who will win the women's French Open final?

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SHARAPOVA
SARA ERRANI

Sharapova is a warrior

By Joanne Gerstner
ESPNW.com
Archive

PARIS -- Greg, Greg, Greg. Exactly how much does soon-to-be world No. 1 Maria Sharapova need to do to make you believe she will win the French Open?

She has done everything nearly perfect at Roland Garros, barely breaking a sweat on her supermodel brow.

Oh, wait. Check that. She hasn't broken a sweat yet, only forced to compulsively brush those wispy stray blond strands out of her famous face after she has had to hit the ball a few times.

Sharapova has played a little more than eight hours of tennis in six matches. Sara Errani, god bless her pocket-rocket 5-foot-5 frame, has had to battle it out for more than 10 hours.

You question my girl power and, by proxy, the power of espnW? When it comes to Sharapova, W means one thing: warrior. Sharapova is playing assassin-like tennis, only blowing her cover through those crazy shrieks. That's big girl power.

She's no longer her infamous "Cow on Ice" visage. She's moving faster and dialed in with anticipation. Service returns? Smoked. Service game? OK, fine, you still hold your breath a tiny bit when Sharapova serves with that odd, Eiffel Tower-high toss in the wind, but she's getting it done.

We're all for the Errani tribe of small tennis players, as I am closer to point guard stature myself. But this could get crazy ugly, as Sharapova is 6-2 with a huge wingspan.

Though Errani plays with spunk to add a couple pseudo-inches to her frame, you can't pretend to serve hard. Sharapova is cranking her best serves around 119 mph, and even the taller girls such as Petra Kvitova can't get them. Errani's best serve is good for the on-ramp to the slow lane on the German autobahn -- 93 mph.

I hate seeing little ones getting beaten up, but this is for hardware. Errani can take the little trophy. Sharapova is packing the big one to take home.

Sharapova in two.

Don't let Errani's size fool you

Garber By Greg Garber
ESPN.com
Archive

PARIS -- OK, Joanne, I know that size is everything in the world of women's tennis. And since you're fronting for espnW at Roland Garros, I don't doubt you have inside information on how this French Open final will go.

What chance does 5-foot-5 Sara Errani have against the 6-2 Maria Sharapova on Saturday? Sharapova has already won three major titles -- and this is the Italian's first final ever.

Wait, didn't she beat former Roland Garros champion Ana Ivanovic on the way? Oh, and another former winner here, Svetlana Kuznetsova? And how about Slammin' Sammy Stosur? Isn't Stosur the reigning U.S. Open champion? Errani doesn't care about the size of the player -- or the résumé -- she just goes out and plays ball.

It will happen again against Sharapova.

Look, I understand that this thing has a sweet story arc. The shoulder surgery, the comeback, the rebuilt service motion -- it's all quite heartwarming for the icy athlete from Siberia. But Sharapova already has three Slam trophies, and this is probably Errani's best shot.

Remember, this is the major that gave you Anastasia Myskina, Francesca Schiavone, Ivanovic and, last year, Li Na. How does Sharapova fit in with that group? History alone makes this a lock for Errani.

Before this year, Errani had never been beyond the third round of a Grand Slam event -- then she made the quarters early this year in Melbourne. In a span of two months, March and April, she won more tournaments than she had in her career -- Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest. Before this fortnight, she had never beaten a top-10 player. Now she has beaten two in three days. She had been 0-5 against Stosur and managed to win.

It has been a year of erasing precedents for Errani.

And she's not just happy to be here.

"Is not finished," she said after beating Stosur. "So I have one match more. I have to think about that."

I will (reluctantly) go against the power of W.

Errani in three.