INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - With winners firing off her racquet left, right and center - she fired an average of two per game - Maria Sharapova completely overpowered Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday for her first WTA title of the year and the 28th of her career.
The No.2-seeded Sharapova was hitting it hard, flat and accurately from the get-go, breaking the Wozniacki serve at love in the first game and riding that wave to a 62 20 lead; Wozniacki had come back from that exact deficit against Angelique Kerber in her semifinal match but Sharapova wasn't about to let history repeat itself as she closed fast, eventually finishing the No.8 seed off, 62 62.
Sharapova was the clear aggressor during the one-hour, 21-minute duel - she had more unforced errors than Wozniacki, 25 to 19, but she also had over 15 times as many winners as the Dane, 33 to 2.
"The scoreline makes the match look a lot easier than it was - it was a tough match, a tough battle, and there were a lot of games that went to deuce and long games," Sharapova said. "Those games could have easily swung the other way, especially some opportunities she had in the second set. I felt like I was always a foot ahead though, especially with the breaks - I served well today, and that helped me.
"She's someone who makes you hit so many balls if she has time, and that's not the way I want to be and not how to control points. It was really important to take away that time she likes to have.
"I didn't feel like I played my best tennis in the beginning of the tournament, but sometimes that's the way it works. It's always better to work yourself through the tournament and get better as it ends than to start extremely well and don't feel like you're gaining momentum as the tournament goes on."
Having also won Indian Wells in 2006, Sharapova is now the eighth player in the 25-year history of the tournament to win the title twice - the other seven players to do it are Martina Navratilova, Mary Joe Fernandez, Steffi Graf, Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, Daniela Hantuchova and Kim Clijsters.
Sharapova had already secured a return to the No.2 ranking by winning her semifinal match Friday.
Wozniacki was very complimentary afterwards. "She was putting pressure on me from the start," she said. "I felt like everything she wanted to do today was going in - she was making very few errors, and when she did, it was at times where it didn't really matter. Her first and second serves were pretty much the same speed, she stepped into the returns, and even when she was running, she still came down with some shots that were going very close to the lines. I have to say she just played too well."
Wozniacki still felt good about her game and overall tournament. "I've felt very good all year about my game," she said. "I have to be happy with the finals here. It's a very big tournament. It's been a good two weeks for me. I've been fighting and playing some really good tennis. I've been having to think a lot and play some chess out there - I've had to play aggressive, defensive, and everything that I had.
"Today there wasn't time for chess."