10SBALLS APPLAUDS MARIA SHARAPOVA AND TEAM AS SHE WINS THE TIANJIN OPEN

Written by: on 15th October 2017
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10SBALLS APPLAUDS MARIA SHARAPOVA AND TEAM AS SHE WINS THE TIANJIN OPEN  |
Proud of this Girl! And our team our families the sponsors and last but not least the support from the entire global #sharafamily – Photo by @sventennis via Instagram.

 

 

Maria Sharapova accomplishes major milestone in comeback with her first title in two and a half years.

 

It was an atmosphere of anticipation and relief for five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova at the Tianjin Open, where the Russian wildcard marked a major milestone in her comeback with her first title since May of 2015.

 

Sharapova, who had never before played in Tianjin, was disciplined and focused all week, not dropping a set en route to the WTA International title, defeating up-and-coming Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 to cap off a successful week for the former number one.

 

“It is a special title, a special victory,” said Sharapova on her 36th career title. “It has been a couple of years since I have held the winner’s trophy. It is a great feeling, a team effort.”

 

It was an up-and-down affair early in the opening set, as some nervy play from both players manifested itself in only one hold in the first four games, as Sabalenka led 3-1 to begin strongly. The big-hitting 19-year-old extended her lead by saving a break point for 4-1 before two straight strong games from Sharapova, including a marathon seventh game gave the Russian one of the breaks back on her fourth time of asking for 3-4.

 

From there, the five-time major winner began to assert her authority, holding easily with some big serving for 4-all before exchanging service holds to bring the first set to 5 games apiece. The pressure of Sharapova’s bulletins returns finally got to Sabalenka as the Belarusian youngster gave up the break and handed Sharapova a chance to serve out the opening set. The two-time French Open winner made no mistake with her opportunity, closing the first set out on her second set point with some powerful hitting to take it 7-5.

 

The second set that ensued was nearly a carbon copy of the first as some loose hitting from the Los Angeles resident gave up the early break as Sabalenka raced out to another 4-1 lead. Another poor service game from the Russian handed the 19-year-old a commanding 5-1 leading, giving Sabalenka the chance to level the match at a set apiece.

 

In typical Sharapova fashion though, the former world number one reeled off four games in a row, displaying her trademark fighting spirit, breaking the Belarusian’s serve twice and holding on for 5-all despite saving a set point in the tenth game. The pair exchanged breaks the ensuing two games, sending the second set to a tiebreak.

 

In the breaker it was a fiercely contested affair, with the first six points all going to serve for 3-all. Sharapova handed the mini-break away for 4-3, but the Russian’s grit broke Sabalenka twice, handing her a 5-4 lead.

 

Despite dropping the first point on her serve, Sharapova moved ahead 6-5, drawing up her first match point. Serving to stay in the match, Sabalenka held her nerve, saving one match point before another came up for the Russian at 7-6. Another two match points came and went for the wildcard but another clutch point from Sharapova brought up her fourth championship point.

 

It was fourth time lucky for Sharapova as a powerful serve and a long return from Sabalenka secured the Tianjin Open title for the Russian, triumphing 7-5, 7-6 to claim her first tour title in two and a half years.

 

“When you start all the way from the beginning of the tournament, and it was so cold and not as many spectators, and then you end up playing the final in a full stadium with so much enthusiasm and energy and you are the one that wins the last point, just everything falls into place,” commented the five-time major champion. “You have to appreciate those moments, never take them for granted.”

 

Sharapova will now move onto her final tour event of the season, returning to her home country as a wildcard entrant at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

 

Asked about returning to the Russian capital for the first time in ten years, “I am really looking forward to playing in my home country as the last event of the year,” said Sharapova. “Obviously coming there with the title already means a lot, but I do really want to finish strong, even though it is a very fast turnaround, and I don’t remember the last time that I played three events in a row. But I will give it everything I have got and I know I have so many amazing fans there.”

 

With her triumph in China, Sharapova now moves up to 57 in the world rankings, guaranteeing her direct entry into the Australian Open and with a semifinal showing next week in Moscow, a top 50 finish.

 

“T” stands for #Tennis #Tianjin #Toalson @tianjinopen looking forward to today! – Photo by @sventennis via Instagram.

 

 

Title #36!!!!!! This one feels oh so good – Photo by @mariasharapova via Instagram.

 

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