Maria Sharapova has advanced to the 2012 French Open Finals after defeating Petra Kvitova and in the process returned to No. 1 in the world. A victory in the Final would give Sharapova, a career Grand Slam at the age of 25 including her 2004 Wimbledon title, the 2006 US Open and the 2008 Australian Open.
Sharapova has many strengths and when she is at her best her forehand, backhand and power serve her well and allow her to completely dominate players. However, at a Grand Slam Final, it is the weaknesses of the player that often determines the outcome.
Sharapova weaknesses are her volleys and her speed moving around. Often her serve can be a weakness or an asset. This variability in her serve largely is based on the state of her mental stamina. With any luck, the thought of a career Grand Slam as well as a world No. 1 ranking should be enough to propel her to focus and channel her mental toughness.
As well, the training that Sharapova has required to return to number one has made her much fitter. Even though moving around the court can be her weakness, having the reserve of her improved strength and endurance from months of shoulder rehabilitation is entirely a benefit on the court. With her strength and endurance optimal at this time, this all can help compensate for her lack of speed.
Sharapova is faced with an opponent in the finals who plays a completely different style of tennis. Errani is shorter and relies on grit and smarts as well as speed and resilience to win. If Errani can control how much the ball moves around on the court, then she will be a very tough opponent for Sharapova. She could wear Sharapova down by making her move so often.
Both Sharapova and Errani are coming into the prime of their tennis careers at age 25. Both are ranked in the top 10, therefore, we can expect them to face off many times in the future. The winner will be determined by whomever takes control of the style of play. If Sharapova takes control and keeps her mental edge, the French Open 2012 trophy and the career Grand Slam will be hers.