Saturday, 9 June 2012

Sharapova wins first French Open title

Maria Sharapova marked her rise back to the summit by beating Sara Errani 6-3 6-2 to clinch her first French Open title and complete her set of grand slam trophies.

The 25-year-old, who on Monday will overtake Victoria Azarenka to become world number one for the first time in four years, is the 10th woman to achieve a career Grand Slam, following in the footsteps of the likes of Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.
Errani's brilliant run to the final, which included wins over Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sam Stosur, was one of the most surprising for many years but in the end Sharapova's extra power was simply too much.
The contest was a mismatch in many ways. Sharapova, the new world number one and three-time grand slam champion against a player who had won only one match at Roland Garros prior to this year and stands less than 5ft 5in tall compared to Sharapova's 6ft 2in.
The Russian towered over Errani as they stood together at the net before the match and she began in the manner of a heavyweight fighting a lightweight.
Sharapova's huge hitting always had the potential to overwhelm her opponent, and that was certainly the case in the first four games, which she raced through.
Errani is a feisty and talented competitor, though, and, helped by two double faults from Sharapova, she hit straight back.
Sharapova, who has been hugely impressive this tournament, continued to pile the pressure on and brought up two set points with Errani serving at 5-2.
The 25-year-old did not buckle, though, saving both, but Sharapova held her nerve to serve it out, clinching the game with a thumping backhand winner.
Sharapova's last grand slam title came in Australia in 2008, prior to the shoulder surgery that she feared at one stage might end her career.
It has been a long road back but she has been in superb form this season, winning titles on clay in Stuttgart and Rome to emerge as one of the main contenders on a surface once so alien she described herself as like a cow on ice.
Errani is totally at home on clay and could boast one more title than her opponent from a breakthrough season but there was no disguising the power advantage of Sharapova.
She made the perfect start to the second set, breaking the Errani serve to love in the opening game, and then staved off a break point as the Italian sought to level at 2-2.
Sharapova was certainly not having things all her own way but she was winning the points that mattered, and she moved 4-1 ahead after a lengthy Errani service game.
The Italian was trying everything to knock Sharapova off her stride, including plenty of trips to the net, but, after pulling one break back, she promptly lost her serve again as the Russian powered away a backhand winner.
That left Sharapova serving for the title, but again Errani made her work very hard for it.
The Italian had made many fans with her never-say-die attitude and she saved two match points, one with a pinpoint drop shot, but on the third Sharapova was simply too good, the Russian sinking to her knees in celebration.

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