Sharapova takes care of business to complete return to the top

Maria Sharapova is only seven months older than Ana Ivanovic, but Saturday's Australian Open final might have been a contest between a veteran and a novice. Sharapova did not play at her best but did not need to. In her own words, her 7-5, 6-3 win was all about "taking care of business".

Ivanovic, playing in her second Grand Slam final, did not suffer from the nerves that ruined her chances against Justine Henin at Roland Garros last summer, but her game slowly disintegrated under the sheer weight of Sharapova's consistency. The Russian played within herself, forcing Ivanovic to play the extra ball and waiting for the errors that she knew the Serb would make.

If the final itself was a disappointment, the value of Sharapova's third Grand Slam title should not be underestimated. A tricky early match against a former champion, Lindsay Davenport, was followed by encounters with three of the world's top four – Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Ivanovic – yet Sharapova won the tournament without dropping a set. She lost only 32 games, the fewest conceded by a female singles champion here for 20 years.

"You have to raise your game against better players," Sharapova said. "Lindsay knows how to win big matches and I knew in the second round that I had to raise my game. You have to know she's a great player, but you have to do what you have to do. It was the same against Justine. She has all the experience, but the number one thing is not to worry about who you're playing. If I take care of my business, I can beat anyone. I have that confidence.

"This is one of the toughest draws I've had. I'm more pleased that I know realistically it's possible to keep a high level and play amazing tennis through seven matches and to believe in myself. I knew I played Justine at a very high level and that that intensity was bound to drop in the next match. It was important to be conscious of that and to handle it."

Twenty is no age to be making a comeback, but Sharapova said this felt like a second phase of her career, particularly after her long struggles with a shoulder injury last year. Even when she reached the final here 12 months ago she left in tears after being swept away by Serena Williams.

"Success the second time is a lot sweeter," Sharapova said. "I've proved I can come back from having setbacks and negative thoughts and doubts and wondering where my injury was taking me."

The French Open, the only Grand Slam title she has yet to win, is now a major goal. "It's one of the biggest challenges to win it, but that's what drives me," Sharapova said. "I'm getting better and feeling stronger. I'm holding my ground on the clay, my body is developing and I think I have a great chance."

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes