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Sharapova rolls past Chakvetadze, to face Henin in final

MADRID, Spain -- Justin Henin wants a perfect post-Wimbledon
season.

With a win over Maria Sharapova in the final at the Sony
Ericsson Championships on Sunday, Henin can become the first player
to go unbeaten after Wimbledon since Steffi Graf in 1989.

Henin defeated fourth-ranked Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-4, and
Sharapova stopped No. 7 Anna Chakvetadze 6-2, 6-2 Saturday in the
semifinals of the round-robin tournament that features the top
eight players.

A win would equal Graf's 25-match run and make Henin the first
player to capture 10 or more titles in a season since Martina
Hingis in 1997. Henin won the French Open and U.S. Open en route to
a 62-4 record this season.

"I'm a little bit sad that the season is almost over because it
only has good memories,'' she said. "There's one match left, the
last of the season and I want to make the most of it.''

Henin and Sharapova last met in 2006 semifinals of the WTA's
season-ending tournament. Henin won 6-2, 7-5 (5) to clinch the
year-end No. 1 ranking.

Sharapova has beaten Henin only twice in eight meetings, the
last at the 2006 U.S. Open final.

"It's going to be a tough one, she's got nothing to lose and
this is the last match,'' Henin said. "I need pressure to play
well. To win the championship is my motivation and my goal.''

On Saturday, Sharapova won her fourth straight match of the
tournament after an injured shoulder limited her to a single
victory since Aug. 31.

"I just thought to myself that four weeks ago you were really
doubting yourself, so to be here is really great and to be in the
final is even better,'' said Sharapova, who can move into the top
five with a win.

Henin dropped her No. 1 ranking to Sharapova in January after
missing the start of the season to deal with her divorce.

"It was a season with a lot of emotions, good ones and bad
ones,'' said the top-ranked Belgian. "My loss at Wimbledon has
been pretty painful but helped me build something better -- that
helped me to win the U.S. Open.''

The sixth-ranked Sharapova dropped out of the top five for the
first time in three years. Slowed by a shoulder injury, she's 36-10
with a career-low one singles title this season.

"The most import thing is that I've been able to serve without
thinking about hurting my shoulder,'' Sharapova said. "I'm serving
and playing freely and that is really important.''

Henin, who has $4.3 million in prize money, will surpass Kim
Clijsters as the WTA's highest single-season earner after the
event.

"It's going to be a mental battle,'' Henin said. "She's a girl
I know well, I've won, she's won, we fought for No. 1 here and for
the championships. She's back now this week to her best level, but
I have a lot of motivation to win here again.''

Ivanovic put up a tougher fight against Henin than during their
last encounter -- a 6-1, 6-2 defeat in the French Open final.

Henin needed long rallies to break Ivanovic six times. Henin
held serve nine times despite nine double-faults and improved to
3-0 against Ivanovic.

Sharapova, who won the 2004 season-ending tournament on her
debut, broke Chakvetadze twice in each set to improve to 6-0
against the her.