Maria Sharapova wins 2008 Aus Open | sports | Hindustan Times
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Maria Sharapova wins 2008 Aus Open

Russian 5th seed Maria Sharapova beats 4th seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 7-5 6-3 to win women's singles title.

sports Updated: Jan 27, 2008 02:36 IST

Russian fifth seed Maria Sharapova won the Australian Open final against fourth seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-3 on Saturday, claiming her third Grand Slam title.

Sharapova, a losing finalist here last year, adds the Australian title to the Wimbledon crown she won in 2004 and her 2006 US Open.
The ecstatic Russian said she was pleased to make amends for last year's "depressing" drubbing at the hands of Serena Williams.

"This is just incredible, if someone had told me in the middle of last year that I'd be standing on this stage in front of all you guys with the big one, I'd probably say forget it," she said.

"Last year was a pretty difficult year me," she added, dedicating the win to coach Michael Noyce's mother Jane, who died in 2007. "After that loss that we suffered I just gained a whole new perspective on life and my injuries and how to treat life with respect."

She also revealed she received a text message from former Grand Slam champion Billie Jean King before the match saying "champions take chances and pressure's a privilege".

"We all want to take our chances, I'm just so glad I took mine today," Sharapova said. The Russian slumped to the court in tears after claiming victory in one hour 31 minutes, then rushed over to shake hands with father Yuri in the stands.

There were also tears from Ivanovic, who battled gamely but ultimately had no answer to Sharapova's powerful serve in the 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) cauldron at the Rod Laver Arena.

A flurry of unforced errors, 33 to Sharapova's 15, did not help Ivanovic's cause and the partisan 15,000-strong crowd was unable to cheer her to victory in the decider.

The Serb showed no sign of the nerves that rippled her in the French Open final last year and drew first blood as the pair, both 20, probed or weaknesses in the opening game, blasting an ace as Sharapova netted two returns.

But the pumped-up Russian held Ivanovic to love her first four service games, running Ivanovic around with blistering ground strokes and not hesitating to attack the net and leave her opponent with nowhere to go.

She seized a break in the fifth game as Ivanovic put too much power on her forehand, spraying her returns wide. The Serb's radar finally kicked in and she scored her first point off Sharapova's serve in the fifth game after 22 minutes, going on to break back after Sharapova double faulted twice.

Sharapova recovered to break Ivanovic again three games later, then served out the set after 49 minutes. She maintained her aggression in the second, stretching Ivanovic to break point in an opening game that lasted 11 minutes but the Serb hung on, desperately chasing down returns to maintain toehold in the match.

The decisive break came in the seventh game and Ivanovic's resistance finally faltered when Sharapova earned three match points in her next service game. She saved one chance but hit a forehand return wide to give the Russian victory.