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Wozniacki to face Sharapova, Nadal up against del Potro

Story highlights

  • Maria Sharapova will play fellow former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in final
  • Sharapova defeats fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in semis to reach title match again
  • Wozniacki, the 2011 winner, reaches final at Indian Wells for third time in four years
  • Rafael Nadal reaches final of men's event after beating Tomas Berdych on Saturday

It will be former world No. 1 against former world No. 1 when Maria Sharapova lines up against Caroline Wozniacki in the women's final at Indian Wells on Sunday -- a tale of two careers that have headed in opposite directions.

While Sharapova completed her recovery from longterm injury problems by completing her collection of grand slam titles at last year's French Open, Wozniacki is still waiting for her first major crown as she battles to remain among the game's top 10.

Sharapova returned to second in the rankings following Friday's 6-4 6-3 semifinal victory over fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, as another former No. 1 -- defending champion Victoria Azarenka -- slipped down after pulling out of her quarterfinal clash with Wozniacki due to an ankle injury.

The Dane, meanwhile, battled into her third final in four years at the Californian hard-court tournament as she came from behind to overcome German fourth seed Angelique Kerber 2-6 6-4 7-5.

Read: Federer refuses to blame injury

"Maria is a great competitor and fights for every point," Wozniacki said of her next opponent, who she thrashed in the 2011 semis on the way to winning the title.

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"She plays very aggressively and tries to take every ball on the rise and plays very flat -- it's going to be very tough."

Sharapova, who won the desert event in 2006 and was runnerup last year, has a 4-2 advantage over the world No. 10 and won both their encounters after that Indian Wells defeat.

"Caroline is dangerous when she has the opportunities to open up the court and runs you side to side," said the 25-year-old, who will be seeking her 28th WTA title while Wozniacki aims for a 21st.

The 22-year-old will try to stifle Sharapova's power game on a surface that suits her patient baseline approach.

"I really enjoy this tournament -- I think it shows," Wozniacki said. "I think the court suits me very well. I like that it goes fast through the air but it's a pretty slow court.

"It's a game of chess out there -- if you play it here, you expect it here. 'Wait, is it short? Okay, go in and attack. Is it deep? You need to play deep back because you don't want her to attack.'

"It's a game of finding out where is the toughest for the opponent to get to the ball."

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In the men's tournament, Rafael Nadal has reached his fourth successive final since making his comeback from longterm injury after beating sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4 7-5 in the first of Saturday's semifinals.

"It's completely unexpected," said Nadal, who won two out of three clay events before heading to the U.S.

"To be in the final ... it's a big surprise but I'm here and I'm very, very happy."

The Spaniard will face Juan Martin del Potro, who eliminated World No 1. Novak Djokovic 4-6 6-4 6-4 to end the Serb's 22-match winning streak.

"He's a big challenge for me also," del Potro told reporters of Nadal. "He will want to win this tournament, for sure, and it's going to be very interesting match."

Djokovic had won 17 matches since the start of the year, which included his run to a fourth Australian Open crown and the ATP title in Dubai.

"It happens," Djokovic told reporters. "All the credit to my opponent today. He deserved to win because he was more composed in the important moments and he played the right shots.

"He stepped into the court, where, on the other side, me, I made a lot of unforced errors and was at back of the court too passive. It's sport."

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