Sharapova captures Tokyo title

TOKYO: Crowd favourite Maria Sharapova captured her first title since her injury lay-off by beating Jelena Jankovic to win the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament today.

The 22-year-old Russian, who returned to action in May after a right shoulder injury, won the battle between the former World No 1s to regain the title she won in 2005, when the Serbian seventh seed retired with an arm injury at 5-2.

“It was very tough because Jelena started off so strong. It was my second final of the year, so I was a little bit nervous,” said Sharapova. “I wanted to perform really well. I feel like I played good enough tennis to give her a go today and I just wanted to keep fighting out there.” Sharapova found herself 0-40 down in the opening game, which she lost two points later, hitting a backhanded drop shot wide. She then went 0-2 down before moving into top gear, hitting an array of power-packed strokes and aggressive service returns to take the following four games in a row.

Sharapova said: “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 100 per cent. “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,” she added. Sharapova’s fifth win against Jankovic in seven meetings earned her $350,000.

For Sharapova, who claimed her first career WTA singles and doubles titles

at the 2003 Japan Open,

it was her first title since Amelia Island in April

2008, and 20th overall,

four of them in Tokyo.

Jankovic, who needed court-side treatment to her right arm in the semi-finals on Friday, took a medical time-out for the same injury at the beginning of the eighth game.But Jankovic abandoned the match when she went down love-30. “It started yesterday during the match I guess because the roof was closed and it’s very humid in there. The ball got really heavy. I started to feel pain in my shoulder, then it was going down to my wrist,” said Jankovic.

She said her wrist was now swollen and she had no power to hold the racket. “I don’t know what happened there. But it is a new injury, started yesterday. I tried my best... but I would just get weaker and weaker and there was more and more pain. Unfortunately, I had to stop. I couldn’t finish it. Hopefully, I will recover for the (China Open) tournament, which is really important for me. But we will see,” added Jankovic.