Following a fantastic year on the tour in 2014, where she returned from a shoulder surgery and managed to win her fifth Grand Slam title, Maria Sharapova maintained that momentum at the start of 2015 with a title win in her first tournament of the season.
Sharapova defeated Ana Ivanovic, arguably her biggest rival of the last year, in a grueling three-set encounter that lasted a total of 2 hours and 38 minutes. After splitting their past four matches – all their encounters of 2014 – they kept up the pace this season.
“We always go in and compete. We don’t give up until the end. I think that’s what makes our matches so great,” Sharapova said going into the match. “I look forward to another good match here.”
The first set alone was a whopping 61 minutes and saw Ivanovic prevail in the tiebreaker. However, Sharapova showed her trademark resiliency and rallied back to win the match 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3.
“She had some great comebacks. She got back the balls that I thought weren’t coming over the net,” Ivanovic said. “That’s why she’s where she is, and that’s why she’s such a great champion.”
This is Sharapova’s 34th title on the tour. This was also her first title Down Under since she won the Australian Open in 2008 – a match where she also defeated Ivanovic to lift the title.
Given her gradual rise through the ranks, Sharapova has managed to claw her way to a competitive spot against world No. 1 Serena Williams. She will have the opportunity to usurp the ranking with a strong showing in the Australian Open.