Much of the talk in the build up to the tournament concerned not just Sharapova's bid to win a third straight title at the Porsche Arena but also whether she could preserve her Top 10 status. An up and down start to the year has seen the Russian slip to No.9 in the rankings, and, with 470 points to defend, anything less than a semifinal run this week would result in her slipping outside the Top 10 for the first time since March 2011.
For Radwanska, the contest presented not only an assessment of where her game stands at the start of the hectic European clay court season, but also an opportunity to test herself against one of her rivals for next month's French Open.
The Turning Point
In an opening set where both players struggled on serve, the turning point came in the eighth game when Sharapova recovered from 0-40 down to hold for a 5-3 lead. A few games later, the Russian wrapped up the set when Radwanska was unable to retrieve a wide serve.
She carried this momentum into the second, two early breaks helping her race into a 4-0 lead. With Sharapova now in full flow, Radwanska was forced to batten down the hatches, belatedly stopping the rot with a gritty hold. However, the reprieve was only temporary, and despite some spirited late resistance, the defending champion wrapped up a 64 63 win on her eighth match point.
"I think at the start I wasn't being smart at the right times and wasn't constructing the points well on my serve," Sharapova said. "But I think the key was that game that I was able to win after being down 0-40.
"She likes moving her opponents around the court and she does that extremely well when she has time. You know, I don't want to find myself running forwards and backwards. I need to look for the opportunities when I have short ball and take advantage of that and not let her get back into the point, which she does so often. That's something that I did really well.
"Obviously it was a very difficult end and she played extremely well on some of those match points. I was happy that I stayed aggressive and I was able to win the last one. It was a really big point obviously. So, yeah it's a big win for me, probably the biggest since my injury."