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Li Na beats Maria Sharapova in Aegon Classic final

Li Na with the Maude Watson Trophy
Li Na was the losing finalist in last year's tournament

Top seed Li Na beat former world number one Maria Sharapova 7-5 6-1 in Birmingham to win the Aegon Classic.

It was a repeat of last year's semi-final, where the Chinese star also overcame the Russian before losing to Magdalena Rybarikova in the final.

"Last year I beat Maria and then was so excited I forgot I had another match," Li said after her success on Sunday.

"I'm excited again. If I had another match this time, I think I would probably lose that too."

Second-seeded Sharapova had won at Edgbaston Priory in 2004 - the year she won Wimbledon - and again in 2005.

The Florida-based 23-year-old broke Li early and led 3-1 but then found it increasingly hard to land her first serves.

Once Li, 28, broke back for 3-3, she got on top and by the start of the second set, Sharapova's confidence had dipped.

606: DEBATE

The Russian, who sent down seven double faults in total, was outmaneouvred in the baseline rallies as Li hit a number of brilliantly struck drives from both wings to close out the victory.

Li's victory returned her to the world's top 10 and provided her with her third career WTA victory, the previous ones coming in Guangzhou, in 2004, and Australia's Gold Coast two years ago.

She became the first Chinese woman to break into the top 10 earlier this year, after an impressive run to the semi-finals of the Australia Open, before dipping out of the elite group seven weeks later.

But solid performances on clay and this victory on grass, have moved her back up the rankings.

Had she won on Sunday, Sharapova would have been the first female player this year to take three tour events following wins in Memphis and Strasbourg.

But she was happy to get a string of matches under her belt before Wimbledon, which starts a week on 21 June.

"I came here to get as many matches as I could, and I did," she said. "It's nice to win the tournament but sometimes it doesn't happen."



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see also
Sharapova makes Birmingham final
12 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Sharapova secures last-four place
11 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Wickmayer denies battling Robson
10 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Baltacha out but Keothavong wins
09 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Robson wins opener in Birmingham
07 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Henin sees off Sharapova comeback
30 May 10 |  Tennis
Sharapova wins Strasbourg title
22 May 10 |  Tennis
Rybarikova claims Aegon Classic
14 Jun 09 |  Tennis


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
China Economic Net China's Li Na beats Sharapova - 2 hrs ago
Namibian Li Na beats Sharapova to lift Birmingham title - 6 hrs ago
Melbourne Age China's Li in top 10 after win over Sharapova - 18 hrs ago
Qatar Peninsula Li Na beats Sharapova in final battle - 19 hrs ago
Telegraph Li Na re-enters world top-10 after victory over Maria Sharapova - 21 hrs ago


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