Maria Sharapova had a quiet first two months of the year by her standards, but the 25-year-old Russian underlined her determination to remain a big noise by winning her first title of 2013 in Indian Wells last night.
Sharapova's 6-2, 6-2 victory over Caroline Wozniacki will see her replace Victoria Azarenka at No 2 in today's updated world ranking list, while the manner of her victory suggested she will again be a contender for major honours this year.
The meeting of two former world No 1s and former Indian Wells champions was a serious mismatch. Sharapova, hitting the ball with great power from both flanks, never let Wozniacki settle into any sort of rhythm.
The Dane, who had a miserable first half of 2012 but has shown signs of a return to form of late, saw Sharapova treat some of her serves with contempt and was repeatedly punished for leaving the ball short. Sharapova, who did not drop a set in her six matches in the tournament, hit 33 winners, while Wozniacki managed just two.
Wozniacki had lost four of her previous six meetings with the Russian, though Sharapova had won just three games in their only previous meeting in this tournament in the 2011 semi-finals.
Sharapova, who has now won at least one title every year since 2003, took command from the very start, winning eight of the first nine points. Wozniacki, who will climb one place to No 9 in the rankings today, hung on until Sharapova, playing in her first final of the year, won five games in a row from 3-2 up.
Having taken the first set with a typically powerful forehand winner down the line, Sharapova quickly took control of the second and closed out victory by converting her first match point with a service winner after an hour and 21 minutes.
Azarenka and Serena Williams, the world No 1, had been threatening to stretch away from the rest of the field in recent times, but this performance suggested that Sharapova can be just as potent a force as she was in 2012, when she completed her set of Grand Slam titles by winning the French Open and briefly recaptured the world No 1 ranking.Reuse content