Sharapova Shines In Strasbourg
Published May 22, 2010 12:00
STRASBOURG, France - It was better late than never this week for Maria Sharapova, who, despite being a late entry into the Internationaux de Strasbourg, went all the way to her second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title of the year, beating first-time finalist Kristina Barrois in straight sets for it.
Sharapova's power game was challenged early against the tricky Barrois, who mixed in big forehands with topspin and slice off her beautiful one-handed backhand. But after escaping a 5-3 deficit in the first set Sharapova rolled, taking 10 of the next 11 games for a 75 61 victory. It was the second clay court title for Sharapova out of 22 overall - she won her first at Amelia Island in 2008.
"Kristina changed it up a lot. Her backhand was more old school, with 90% of the shots low, so I really had to bend my knees," Sharapova said afterwards. "I had one sloppy game where I made a few unforced errors and that gave her the chance to go a break up. When she was serving for the set at 4-5 I managed to hang in there, and after that I felt my level went up a little bit. In the end, it was just a combination of doing a few things better than she was."
Sharapova, who was the No.1 seed, did have some tough ones during the week. She was pushed to three sets twice, against Regina Kulikova in the first round and No.5 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues in the semis; and that semifinal match wasn't her only task Friday - she played most of her quarterfinal that day too, thanks to rain hindering and eventually stopping play on Thursday.
"If you asked me before the tournament if I'd come back again, I would've said I'd have to win this year. I guess that's a sign I need to come back," Sharapova added. "I had a great week. Obviously you don't know how things turn out but I hope to come back. I'm looking forward to Roland Garros. It's obviously the most challenging of the Grand Slams for me, but I've done well there before."
Barrois was nearly sent home twice en route to her first Tour final, staving off two match points in her first round win against Stéphanie Foretz and cutting it fine against Vania King in the semis too, winning in a third set breaker. Before this week, her best career runs were two quarterfinals - including here last year.
"It was a good tournament, no matter what happened today," Barrois said. "I had my chances in the first set but couldn't win it, and then she put so much pressure on me. It's good to have so many matches on clay just before the French. Hopefully I play the same there like I did here."
King followed her solid singles showing up with a win in the doubles, partnering Alizé Cornet and beating Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova in the final, 36 64 107. King and Cornet were playing together for the first time; King took home her 10th career doubles title on the Tour, Cornet her second.
King and Cornet played each other in the second round of the singles, with King prevailing in two sets - that clearly didn't get in the way of their team success.