Maria Sharapova claims title No 36 after beating Aryna Sabalenka in Tianjin Open final


Former world number one Maria Sharapova beat Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 7-6 (10-8) in the Tianjin Open final.

This is the seventh tournament she's participated in since she received a 15-month drug ban for using Meldonium.

The victory today means her first title since May 2015.

It took Sharapova just over two hours to beat the 19-year-old Sabalenka, who made her debut in a WTA final.

Sharapova was behind 4-1 in both sets, but managed to turn the sets around in both instances, needing to go through a dramatic tie break to claim the victory.

The trophy seals Sharapova's 36th WTA tournament victory and she posted on Twitter about how special it is for her.

The Russian five-time Grand Slam winner was denied a wildcard for the French Open, missed Wimbledon due to an injury, and reached the US Open fourth round as a wildcard before losing to Anastasija Sevastova.

Sharapova began the week ranked 86th, and was granted a wildcard for the tournament in China.

She broke an anxious Sabalenka in the opening game, but lost four in a row afterwards as Sabalenka was the more aggressive of the two.


The former No 1 got back on serve at 4-3 after a long game and then secured the important break with a straight forehand.

Belarussian Sabalenka was looking like taking it to a decisive third set. She took a serious lead in the second - 5 games to 1, but Sharapova responded with five consecutive games to serve for the title.

However, Sharapova was unable to win her serve and a double fault sent the set into a tie break.

It began nervously, as the first four serves ended with mini breaks. Sabalenka managed to survive three championship points, but a double fault gave Sharapova a fourth chance, and this time she took it.

Maria Sharapova had a promising week in China, where she did not lose a single set. The victory gives her the first title since the Italian Open two years and five months ago.

It might be the beginning of her march back to the top. The trophy means Sharapova moves up to No 57 in the WTA rankings.

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