Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stuttgart 2012: Sharapova Beats Azarenka; Wins 3rd Clay Title

Much to my surprise, 3-time major champion Maria Sharapova (and current World #2) was able to win the Porsche Grand Prix Open by beating the hottest player on tour, 2012 Australian Open champion (and current World #1) Victoria Azarenka 6-1 6-4 for the first time in three meetings. Despite playing on the surface least well suited to her grip-it-and-rip-it style of tennis, Sharapova was able to hand Azarenka only her second loss of the year in 31 matches played.

Sharapova played some of her best tennis to win her first championship match in 5 final chances against the Belarussian. She ended up hitting 31 winners to a mere 13 unforced errors and was serving extremely well, while Azarenka did not play or serve at her best, possibly affected by a wrist injury. That being said, Sharapova was able to win her 25th career WTA tournament (only her 3rd on clay) and capture her 6th win against a reigning World #1. She improved to 25 wins, 16 losses in career finals. Sharapova had to beat three consecutive Grand Slam champions to win the title (Sam Stosur, Petra Kvitova and Azarenka).

Azarenka has been #1 for 13 weeks and will probably retain the top spot long enough to surpass Jennifer Capriati and Maria Sharapova's current total of 17 weeks at the top of the rankings.

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