Tennis

Sharapova beats Ivanovic in Stuttgart final

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Sharapova makes it three in a row. (©GettyImages)
Sharapova makes it three in a row. (©GettyImages).

Maria Sharapova defeated Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to wrap up her third successive Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title in Stuttgart on Sunday evening.

The 27-year-old fought back to claim her first title for 2014, the 30th of her career, and maintain her perfect 13-match record at the indoor clay tournament.

Having won the last six consecutive matches against Ivanovic, Sharapova somewhat unexpectedly struggled to keep up with the former world number one in the opening set.

The Serbian, who has now suffered eight losses in 10 previous meetings with Sharapova, raced to a 5-0 lead before quelling a late resurgence from the Russian to close it out 6-3.

A whitewash looked on the cards when Ivanovic carried her free-hitting into the second set, but nerves seemed to creep in as the 26-year-old threw away a commanding 3-1 lead and gifted her experienced opponent a lifeline in a crucial stage of the tie.

Desperate not to relinquish her stunning unbeaten run in Stuttgart, Sharapova jumped at the opportunity to take the match to a deciding set and refused to allow Ivanovic any path back into the clash.

The 2012 French Open champion bullied Ivanovic with her powerful forehand, sweeping the ninth-seed off the court to win 11 of the last 13 games and cap off a remarkable comeback in convincing fashion.

"That was a tough bit of work," said the four-time Grand Slam champion.

"For the first half of the match I thought it might not be my day today, but somehow I turned it around.

"I had quite a slow beginning to the year, but me and my team have been working hard to get in the position to win titles again, and I'm so happy to be able to do it here."

The sixth-seed produced her scintillating best on route to the final including a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Italian Sara Errani last Saturday.

Sharapova dropped just a single set throughout the tournament as she breezed past Agnieszka Radwanska, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova – who provided the most gruelling test in a 7-6 6-7 7-6 first-round encounter.

The Russian’s triumph will see her take home $750,000 and a new Porsche Carrera 911 sports car.

The Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is the only trophy the Russian has lifted on three occasions, overcoming Victoria Azarenka and Li Na in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Martina Navratilova holds the record for the most wins at the curtain raiser of the women’s indoor clay court season with six singles titles between 1982 and 1992.

The world number nine will continue her preparation on clay at the Mutua Madrid Open and Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome ahead of the 2014 French Open beginning on May 26.

Sharapova returned to the tour in late 2013 after spending more than four months on the sidelines following surgery on her troublesome shoulder.

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Topics:
Tennis
Maria Sharapova
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