Maria Sharapova claimed her first China Open title rallying past Petra Kvitova 6-4 2-6 6-3 on Saturday.
The Russian’s victory in Beijing increases her successes on the WTA World Tour circuit to four this year following previous triumphs in Stuttgart, Madrid and the Roland Garros, rising from No. 4 to No. 2 on the WTA Rankings. She is tied on second alongside Ana Ivanovic in the list for most tour titles this year. Serena Williams leads the tour with six.
After going through a 6-4 first set win without much resistance, No. 3 seed Kvitova found her form and started painting the court with trademark huge serves and groundstrokes, striking 15 winners to just nine unforced errors to take the second set in 43 minutes and force a decider.
Sharapova, seeded fourth in Beijing this year, upped the antics and raced out to an early 3-0 lead. Though she missed her first match point opportunity at 5-2, the 27-year-old served the match out at love at 5-3.
“It was a bit of an up-and-down match I’d say – maybe not the best out of the tournament,” Sharapova said. “But it’s never easy playing against Petra. You don’t always quite get a good rhythm. She goes for a lot of shots, very deep, and she’s a very good, confident player.
“She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her play that way. But I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win.”
Kvitova, who won the title in Wuhan last week, appeared a little tired on the day. She was however gracious in defeat after seeing her 11-game winning run end at the expense of Sharapova, who herself fell early in Wuhan.
“Yeah, I was tired, but it was a final, and every time I’m playing a final, I’m giving everything I have inside,” Kvitova commented. “What I did today was a great battle. It was small things and small points that made the difference in the end. I had some chances, but Maria just didn’t let them go.
“She just played really well. And we played two and a half, so I hope the fans enjoyed it too.”