Sharapova to play for first title in over a year

TORONTO - Russia's Maria Sharapova took another big step in her comeback at the Toronto Cup on Saturday reaching her first final in more than year with a gritty 6-2 4-6 6-4 over Alisa Kleybanova.

Playing for a title for the first time since Amelia Island in April 2008, Sharapova will try to confirm her return from shoulder surgery with a victory when she takes on compatriot Elena Dementieva in Sunday's final.

Fourth seeded Dementieva advanced to her fourth final of the year with a clinical 7-6 6-1 win over world number two Serena Williams.

"Coming back after not playing for a while is always tough, especially after you've had an injury," Sharapova told reporters. "I'm really grateful I have another chance to be in a final and with the way I've been able to learn from every match.

"It's almost like another step in my career."

Working her way back after nine months recovering from shoulder surgery, Sharapova launched her comeback in May and has been at her battling best on the Canadian hardcourts even if her game still needs sharpening.

The three-time grand slam winner continues to struggle with her serve offering up 12 double faults and was only able to convert 5-of-22 break opportunities against Kleybanova but made up for those shortcomings with her tenacious competitiveness.

Her 20-year-old opponent also did not lack for grit giving the former-world number one all she could handle despite having to recover from a marathon three hour, 16 minute, three-set victory over fifth seed Jelena Jankovic on Friday.

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