Sharapova believes she can win her first French Open title of her career in the tournament starting at the end of the month.


Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova collected her first tour title since Strasbourg in May last year as she beat Samantha Stosur in the final of the Rome Masters. After rain had delayed the start for several hours, Stosur began slowly, winning just three points in the first four games to trail 0-4. Having claimed the first set with ease, world number eight Sharapova then found her opponent in more competitive mood. But Stosur could not win the important points, and Sharapova won 6-2 6-4. Australia’s Stosur, 27, the world number seven, had beaten French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and then fourth seed Li Na to reach the final in good shape. But she initially struggled to get her first serve going and dished out a number of unforced errors to make Sharapova’s task a relatively easy one in the first set.

The Russian, 24, who has not won a grand slam event since the 2008 Australian Open and subsequent shoulder surgery, was put under more pressure in the second set. Stosur reacted well after being broken in the first game of the second set and converted a break point of her own with a big forehand and then opened up a 2-1 lead. She began to win her share of baseline rallies, and had some joy when pulling Sharapova across court with the Russian’s reluctance to slide on the clay beginning to hamper her. But Sharapova did not allow Stosur to get on top of her, breaking the Australian for a second time and saving two break points in the next game to open up a 4-2 lead. With the next three games going with serve, the Russian found herself serving for the match at 5-4 and duly triumphed with a winning forehand hit wide to the Stosur backhand.





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