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."

Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor