Canadian Eugenie Bouchard's inspired run at the French Open is over after a three-set loss to Russia's Maria Sharapova in the semifinals on Thursday.
The 20-year old from Montreal, seeded 18th, dropped the final two sets to the seventh-seeded Sharapova, who won the match 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
""It was a tough battle, it was what I expected," said Bouchard, who had been 9-0 when winning the first set at a major. "I didn't play as well as I had earlier in the tournament. It's always disappointing to be a bit off. I needed to be aggressive and go for my shots."
Bouchard was trying to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title in tennis' post-1968 Open era.
The loss ended a 10-match winning streak on clay for the Canadian, who came to Paris after winning a warmup event in Germany. She also reached the semifinals at the Australian Open earlier this year.
Bouchard and Carling Bassett-Seguso, who lost in the U.S. Open semifinal in 1984, are the only Canadian singles players who have made the final four at a Grand Slam in the Open era.
Sharapova will face Simona Halep in the final. The No. 4 seed from Romania defeated No. 28 Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-2, 7-6 (4) in the other semi.
It's the third straight appearance in the French Open final for Sharapova, who won in 2012.
Known for her fitness, the four-time Grand Slam winner has won 26 of her last 27 three-set matches played on clay. She's undefeated in three career meetings with Bouchard.
"She played an unbelievable match, her level was extremely high," said Sharapova. "I was fortunate to come up the winner. The way she was playing was tremendous today."
Bouchard was playing at the French Open for the only second time. Last year, she lost to Sharapova in the second round.
"I'm always disappointed with a loss," Bouchard said. "I expect a lot from myself. You know, I felt like I was close today and just came up a bit short. That happens sometimes. I feel like I played a lot of good matches the past two weeks, three weeks even, and so it's sad to see it come to an end.
"But it just motivates me ... I was still so close. That just gives me extra motivation to work hard in practice and get ready for the next one and have that belief that I can do it."
Sharapova fights back
Bouchard took control of the first set by breaking Sharapova's serve in the third game. Sharapova responded with a break of her own to even the score at 4-4, but Bouchard returned the favour in the next game, punctuated with a powerful forehand winner. The Canadian then survived a break point to close out the set when Sharapova sailed a backhand wide.
In the second set, the players traded breaks early before Bouchard squandered a 40-love advantage with serve, losing the game on a double fault to make it 3-1. Sharapova later wasted three set points, including a pair of double faults, to let Bouchard back in it, and the Canadian went on even the set at 5-5. But Sharapova won the next two games, breaking Bouchard to force a third set.
The deciding set was all Sharapova, with the Russian scoring a key break to go up 3-1.
Bouchard did not go quietly in the final game, staving off four match points before finally failing to return a Sharapova forehand on the final point.
"I constructed the points well but I didn't finish them as well as I could," Bouchard said. "In the third set, I didn't feel tired, but she does put so much pressure on you. She elevated her game later in the match, I tried to do my thing and I had a couple of chances but I didn't take my opportunities.
"Maybe I let off a bit on my shots in the second and third sets."