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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 February 2008, 16:44 GMT
Erratic Sharapova seals Qatar win
Maria Sharapova
Sharapova has been the form player so far in 2008
Maria Sharapova overcame an alarming slump before beating Vera Zvonareva to win the Qatar Open and extend her 2008 unbeaten run to 14 matches.

The Russian beat her compatriot 6-1 2-6 6-0 with an erratic display.

Sharapova reeled off six straight games to win the first set before crumbling in the second, Zvonareva eventually taking it at the fifth opportunity.

But despite being well below par, Sharapova got an early break in the decider and dominated the final stages.

"I had so many opportunities in the beginning of the second set but I didn't take them, and she's the type of opponent that's going to play her best tennis when she's playing from behind and has nothing to lose," said Sharapova.

I was kind of sleeping in the beginning of the match

Maria Sharapova

"Her level just comes up, and mine dropped. I felt like my energy was going down. I wasn't moving or hitting the same way, and I think that first game of the third set was very important.

"It gave me a lot of confidence."

It is the 18th career title for the 20-year-old and second of the year following her triumph at Melbourne Park last month.

She went into the final with a 4-3 record against Zvonareva but that looked like a statistical red herring in the first set.

Sharapova pummelled her opponent with big serves and even bigger forehands as she wrapped it up in 23 minutes.

It appeared to have been too easy for the former world number one when her concentration and form completely disappeared at the start of the second.


Zvonareva had to do little but keep the ball in play as she moved 5-2 clear before taking an age to draw level, with four set points going begging.

On-court coaching allowed Michael Joyce to come to Sharapova's aid at the changeover with some tactical advice and his charge was quickly back on track.

She broke three times in succession to move clear and served out for an unexpectedly hard-fought win.

"I had a really slow start," said Sharapova. "I was kind of sleeping in the beginning of the match.

"I had to get myself going somehow and I did, and I played really, really well."

Zvonareva said: "It was a tough one. She started off really well and I didn't really know what to do.

"She was really aggressive and didn't give me a chance. Then I found my game a little bit better and caused her trouble in the second.

"I think the first game of the third set was an important game on my serve.

"I lost it and then she took a 3-0 lead and it was really tough to stop her after that."

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