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Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Saturday, 3 October 2009 08:53 UK

Sharapova takes Pan Pacific title

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova's victory in Tokyo earned her a 220,000 top prize

Maria Sharapova sealed her first title since her lengthy injury lay-off after Jelena Jankovic retired in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

The 22-year-old Russian was leading 5-2 in the first set when Serbian seventh seed Jankovic was forced to withdraw with a recurrence of a shoulder injury.

It handed Sharapova, who only returned to action in May, her first tournament win since Amelia Island in April 2008.

"It was my second final of the year, so I was a bit nervous," Sharapova said.

"It was very tough because Jelena started off so strong."

It was her fifth career victory over Jankovic in seven meetings.

Both players are former world number ones, but both have had a tough season.

Former champion Sharapova came into the tournament unseeded after fighting back from arthroscopic surgery to repair a rotator cuff in her right shoulder nearly a year ago.

To go from not knowing whether you'll ever play the sport again to holding a trophy, it's an unbelievable feeling. You realise what a gift it is to hit a tennis ball

Maria Sharapova

Ranked 25th in the world, she is yet to rediscover the form that has earned her three Grand Slam singles titles, although she did reach the final in Toronto in August, losing to Olympic champion Elena Dementieva in the final.

"I want to thank all of the fans for coming out here and supporting me, it meant a lot to me," said Sharapova.

"To go from not knowing whether you'll ever play the sport again to holding a trophy, it's an unbelievable feeling. You realise what a gift it is to hit a tennis ball. I've put in so much work and this is just exciting."

Jankovic had overcome China's Li Na in straight sets in her semi-final, despite needing courtside treatment on her right arm.

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But she got off to a strong start at the Ariake Coliseum, breaking Sharapova's serve in the first game and taking a 2-0 lead.

Sharapova rallied, though, taking control by winning four straight games before Jankovic took a time-out to have her arm examined by the courtside trainer.

The 24-year-old came back out but lost the first two points of the eighth game before finally calling it a day.

Sharapova added: "I wanted to perform really well. I feel like I played good enough tennis to give her a go and I just wanted to keep fighting out there.

"It's never easy to win a match like this. Obviously, it's very important for Jelena to be healthy and we want to compete at our 100%."

Sharapova, who won her first career WTA singles and doubles titles at the 2003 Japan Open on the same court in Tokyo, added: "It's very difficult for her to perform at her best right now.

"We have gotten a lot of injuries. This is towards the end of the year. I wish Jelena a speedy recovery."



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see also
Sugiyama retires after final loss
03 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Troubled season over for Ivanovic
03 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Jankovic & Sharapova reach final
02 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Sharapova and Jankovic into semis
01 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Jankovic makes progress in Tokyo
30 Sep 09 |  Tennis
Sharapova through as seeds tumble
29 Sep 09 |  Tennis
Safina & Venus suffer early exits
28 Sep 09 |  Tennis
Sharapova injured ahead of Paris
17 May 08 |  Tennis


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