STUTTGART, Germany (AFP) –
Maria Sharapova earned her first WTA title of the year on Sunday as she blasted her way past world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Stuttgart claycourt tournament.
This was the 25-year-old Sharapova’s 25th title of her career, but her first in 2012 having lost three finals.
It was also revenge for both this year’s Australian Open and Indian Wells defeats at the hands of Azarenka and having also been runner-up at the Miami tournament.
Her victory in 84 minutes comes with both a winner’s cheque of 115,000 dollars and a new Porsche sports car.
Azarenka needed treatment on her right wrist after the first set and did not look as sharp as she had done throughout the week, but rallied in the second and pushed Sharapova all the way.
“I am just happy to win, it’s a good tournament with very good players,” said world number two Sharapova.
“It’s a shame she was injured and couldn’t play her normal game
“I am just happy to have won the tournament.
“I came to Europe a bit earlier than normal before the French Open and was just going to use this tournament as a warm-up, but it works for me.”
Sharapova demolished her 22-year-old opponent in the first set needing exactly 30 minutes having raced into a 3-0 lead.
In a competitive encounter, the world’s top two players even barged into one another during a change over.
The Belarusian world number one raised her game in the second set, but Sharapova got the break she needed to make it 4-3 and then served out to win the tournament on her debut in Stuttgart.
“Congratulations to Maria, she’s had a good week here,” said Azarenka.
“I am disappointed, of course, but I had a good week here as well and I am looking forward to coming back next year.”