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Sharapova Wins Down Under

For the second consecutive year, Maria Sharapova made it to the Australian Open women’s final. Sharapova who had lost the title last year, advanced by impressively defeating both Justine Henin in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-0 and Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals. Ana Ivanovic, Sharapova’s opponent, had a tougher road to the finals. After fighting off Venus Williams in the quarterfinals (7-6, 6-4), she had to overcome a 6-0 lost in the first set of the semifinals to win in three against Daniela Hantuchova (0-6,6-3,6-4).

Making it to her second major final, Ivanovic looked more relaxed than her prior experience at the French Open where Henin comprehensively beat her. From the start, Sharapova looked the sharper of the two women. Sharapova’s serve, which has been her main weapon throughout the tournament, was right on target. After breaking in the first set, it seemed that Sharapova would breeze through and win it. But, when Sharapova had a momentary service hiccup, Ivanovic broke back and leveled the first set at five all. After a series forehand errors by Ivanovic, Sharapova once more gained the upper hand and eventually prevailed 7-5 in the first.

Despite a shaky beginning in the second set, Ivanovic found a way to win her games. Furthermore, Ivanovic had a couple of times a 0-30 advantage on Sharapova’s serve, but she was unable to capitalize. On the other hand, in the seventh game of the second set, Sharapova did take advantage of her break chance and captured the lead. While serving to stay in the match, Ivanovic committed a myriad of unforced errors that resulted in her loosing, giving Sharapova her first Australian championship, her third major title. A coup Sharapova achieved without loosing a set in the two weeks of the tournament.

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