Sharapova wins second Qatar title

Chris Wang sees the Russian defeat compatriot Vera Zvonareva in the final.

    Maria Sharapova adds to her trophy collection
    Maria Sharapova, tournament fourth seed, won her second WTA Qatar Open in as many appearances with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 victory over fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva in the final at Khalifa International Tennis complex in Doha.

    Sharapova, winner of the Qatar title in 2005, proved too strong for her compatriot in the ultimate match of the $2.5 million Tier 1 tournament, even though the Australian Open champion lost her way in the second set.

    The 20-year-old remains undefeated in 2008 with 14 wins from 14 matches spanning the Australian Open, Russia's Fed Cup tie against Israel, and now the Qatar Open.

    Zvonareva, who defeated 17th seed Francesca Schiavone, 11th seed Dinara Safina, and 15th seed Sybille Bammer on her way to the final, did well to recover from losing the first set in just 23 minutes, but couldn't match Sharapova when it mattered most.

    "Maria played really well, and I think she deserved to win today. I want to congratulate her on her victory," Zvonareva, ranked 27 in the world, said.

    "It's been a great week. I was injured and couldn't play at the Australian Open, so it's great to be back here and to make the final."

    Sharapova's serve was broken in the opening game of the match, but the tall right-hander then went on the rampage to win six games straight and take the first set in quick time as a shell-shocked Zvonareva struggled to find her rhythm.

    But just when it looked like being an early night for the capacity centre court crowd, Zvonareva raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set and then broke Sharapova again at 5-2, levelling the match at one set apiece.

    Several unforced errors and double faults crept into Sharapova's game, while Zvonareva worked her way back into the match with plenty of support from the crowd who cheered on the underdog.

    However class told in the third set as the former world number one drew on all her big match experience to again reel off six straight games and win the Championship in one hour and 31 minutes.

    "I'd like to congratulate Vera on a great week. To come back from injury is tough. I've been there before, and it's a wonderful effort by her," Sharapova said of her opponent.

    Crowd favourite

    Maria Sharapova had her eyes on the prize [AFP]
    Sharapova then paid tribute to the Doha crowd who got right into the match with some enthusiastic cheering, including cries of 'I love you Maria!', and 'Vera for president!', during the match.

    "Thank you guys - this is what we live for. You get so excited and we feel your enthusiasm. It drives us to be better players," the world number five said.

    "I haven't been in Doha for three years, and it has changed so much.

    "I hope you will all be here in November when hopefully I'll be playing in the Sony Ericsson Championships."

    Sharapova will be hoping for some extra baggage allowance as she flies from Qatar to the United Arab Emirates for next week's Dubai Championships, after picking up two gold trophies, a cheque for $414,000 and a Harley Davidson motorcycle for winning in Doha.

    Qatar will host the end of season WTA Championships from November 4 to 9, where the top eight players in the Tour race for 2008 will compete for a prize pool of $4.45 million.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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