Sharapova routs Wozniacki for Indian Wells title
INDIAN WELLS, California (AFP): Maria Sharapova peaked at just the right time on Sunday to beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2 and win her second Indian Wells WTA title in emphatic style.
The 25-year-old Russian, already projected to supplant Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka at No. 2 in world rankings by reaching her first final of the season, broke Wozniacki twice in each set en route to the victory in one hour and 21 minutes.
The win in a match between former champions gave her a second title to go with the Indian Wells crown she claimed in 2006.
It was Sharapova’s first title since her 2012 French Open triumph gave her a career Grand Slam, and stretched her streak of years with at least one title to 11.
“This is what I do all the work for is these moments,” a beaming Sharapova said. “You feel like everything has paid off.”
Sharapova put her foot on the gas early with a break in the first game and didn’t let up, firing winners off both wings and peppering Wozniacki with four aces.
“It’s the final. You have to be on from the first point,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I played my best tennis in the beginning of the tournament, but sometimes it’s the way it works.
“It’s always better to work yourself through the tournament and get better as it ends than sometimes start extremely well and don’t feel like you’re gaining momentum as the tournament goes on.”
She broke Wozniacki again in the seventh game, her only hiccup coming as she served for the set at 5-2 and made two errors to give Wozniacki a double break point.
Sharapova saved both with backhand winners, then sealed the set with an ace and a forehand winner.
The Russian opened the second set with another break, Wozniacki a bit unlucky with a double fault on break point as her second serve bounced off the net cord.
Wozniacki worked hard to extend the rallies, but she couldn’t penetrate Sharapova’s serve, her consultation with her coach in each set apparently giving her few new clues on how to do so.
“She was putting pressure on me from the start,” Wozniacki said. “She was serving very well. I felt like everything that she wanted to do today was going in. She was making very few errors, and if she did, then it was really at the times where it didn’t really matter.
“I have to say she just played too well today.”
Sharapova broke her again for a 5-2 lead, and served it out with a love game punctuated by a service winner on match point.
“I think it was a tough match, a tough battle, and there were a lot of games that went to deuce and a lot of long games,” Sharapova said.
“I always felt like I was always a foot ahead, especially with the breaks. I was able to serve well today, and that helped me.”
Wozniacki, a former world No. 1 who owns 20 WTA titles — including an Indian Wells win in 2011 — has still never beaten a top-three player in a final.
She remained in search of her first title of 2013, but said her performance was encouraging.
“I have to be happy with the finals here,” she said. “It’s a very big tournament. I have been having to play aggressive, play defense, everything what I had. And I’m pleased with that.”