STUTTGART - Maria Sharapova earned her first WTA title of the year on Sunday as she blasted her way past world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Stuttgart claycourt tournament. This was the 25-year-old Sharapova's 25th title of her career, but her first in 2012 having lost three finals. It was also revenge for both this year's Australian Open and Indian Wells defeats at the hands of Azarenka and having also been runner-up at the Miami tournament, when she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets.
Her victory in 84 minutes comes with both a winner's cheque of 115,000 dollars and a new Porsche sports car. Azarenka needed treatment on her right wrist after the first set and did not look as sharp as she had done throughout the week, but rallied in the second to push Sharapova.
"It's a big win for me, it was my first time here and I am happy to have got a title," said world number two Sharapova, who had put out Wimbledon champion, and world number three, Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals. "I have had some tough matches and have had to play well, it has been a good start to the claycourt season for me. I had lost a few finals recently, so I was really motivated, you always try and change a few things after you lose and they came off. "It's a shame she was injured and couldn't play her normal game, but I am just happy to have won. "I came to Europe a bit earlier than normal before the French Open and was just going to use this tournament as a warm-up, but it works for me." Sharapova demolished her 22-year-old opponent in the first set, needing exactly 30 minutes having raced into a 3-0 lead.
Sharapova gets French Open boost
Maria Sharapova said she was happy to open her clay-court season by winning Stuttgart's WTA tournament as part of her French Open preparations and to break her losing streak in finals. With the Madrid and Rome clay-court tournaments still to come before Roland Garros begins on May 27, the world number two said she still has plenty of work ahead of her as she bids to win the one Grand Slam which eludes her. Having once described herself playing on clay as like 'a cow on ice', Sharapova was in impressive form here as she saw off US Open winner Samantha Stosur and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova en route to the final. She blasted her way past subdued world number one Victoria Azarenka, who had problems with her right wrist all week, for a 6-1, 6-4 victory in Sunday's final. It was her first title of the year having lost her three previous finals in 2012. She also gained revenge for her Australian Open final defeat to Azarenka to claim her 25th title of her career, but having reached the French Open semi-finals last year, the goal is to lift the trophy in Paris.