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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2008, 04:20 GMT
Sharapova wins Aussie Open title
By Piers Newbery

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova has now won three of the four Grand Slam titles
Maria Sharapova won the third Grand Slam title of her career with a straight-sets win over Serbia's Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open.

The Russian, 20, won 7-5 6-3 to add the Australian crown to victories at Wimbledon in 2004 and the 2006 US Open.

After the pair shared early breaks of serve, Sharapova moved ahead again in game 11 and served out the first set.

And two breaks in the second set were enough to give Sharapova a convincing victory in one hour 31 minutes.

On a baking hot Australia Day, with temperatures touching 34C, people in the crowd were fanning themselves and the players looked for shade wherever they could find it.

If someone had told me in the middle of last year I'd be standing here with the big one, I'd have said 'forget it'

Maria Sharapova

Sharapova went into the final as the lower ranked player having missed large parts of last season with a serious shoulder injury.

But from the start of the tournament in Melbourne it was clear that her health problems were behind her as she swept through a draw that included Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic.

Ivanovic, who had beaten Sharapova on her way to a first Grand Slam final at last year's French Open, had enjoyed a breakthrough win over Venus Williams in the last eight.

It was Sharapova who started as the favourite and she began the stronger, breaking in game six as Ivanovic double-faulted in a nervous game.

The Russian, who had not dropped a set on her way to the final, looked poised to extend that record until a surprising drop in her level from 4-2 ahead.

Ivanovic reeled off three straight games as Sharapova struggled both on serve and with her groundstrokes, and the Serbian was close to a second break at 0-30 up in game 10.

606: DEBATE

But Sharapova overcame her brief wobble to hold on before Ivanovic then suffered a slump, handing her opponent a second break of serve with a poor game.

This time Sharapova was not to be denied, serving out to love for the set and almost taking control at the start of the second, just failing to convert two break points.

She was now holding her own service games with ease, heaping the pressure on Ivanovic who finally cracked in game seven with a double fault and a forehand error.

Sharapova showed absolutely no sign of nerves as she held for 5-3 and raced to 0-40 and three championship points on the Ivanovic serve.

The first two chances went begging but Sharapova converted the third when she forced an error, before dropping to her knees in triumph and then tearfully racing to see her father, Yuri, and supporters in the stands.

"This is just incredible," she said. "If someone had told me in the middle of last year I'd be standing here with the big one, I'd have said 'forget it.'

"Last year was pretty difficult for me and my coach (Michael Joyce), who lost his mother, and I really want to dedicate this to her."

Ivanovic said: "Of course I am disappointed but I feel I have plenty of Grand Slam finals ahead of me."

SEE ALSO
Aussie Open day 13 photos
26 Jan 08 |  Tennis
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26 Jan 08 |  Tennis


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