Sharapova building form for assault on French Open Garros

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The Independent Online

Maria Sharapova, who once said she felt like "a cow on ice" when playing on clay, established herself as one of the favourites to win the forthcoming French Open when she beat Australia's Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-4 after an hour and 23 minutes in the final of the women's tournament here yesterday.

Sharapova, who will climb to No 7 in today's updated world rankings list, has not reached a Grand Slam semi-final for more than three years following shoulder surgery but has been recovering the form that once made her the game's outstanding player. Nevertheless, her 23rd title was her first for 12 months, Sharapova having lost all four finals she had reached since last year's Strasbourg tournament.

Stosur, who has now lost all nine of her meetings with Sharapova, was playing in her first final since losing to Francesca Schiavone at Roland Garros last year. The 27-year-old Australian faced an uphill battle after losing the first four games and struggled to hold serve.

Sharapova, who had beaten Caroline Wozniacki, the world No 1, in straight sets in the semi-finals, said: "I'm so excited to be able to be the champion of this tournament. It means so much to me to add this title to the ones I've won before."