Maria Sharapova got back on the winning track Saturday night in Memphis, capturing her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title of the year – and the 21st of her career – at the Cellular South Cup.
Seeded No.1 at the International-level tournament, Sharapova was considered the favorite in the field from the beginning, and boy did she deliver, not dropping a set the entire way. In fact, the Russian lost just 21 games in 10 sets – her 62 61 win over Sofia Arvidsson in the final was one of her quickest of the week.
Arvidsson, who actually won six matches to make it to the title match, two in qualifying and four in the main draw, lost nine straight games from 2-2 in the first set. Serving down 62 50 she saved a match point with an ace and closed to 5-1, but Sharapova dashed any hopes of a comeback by serving it out at love.
“I feel great. I came here for matches – I got five and I got the win, so it was a good week,” Sharapova said. “I served and returned well, two things that are very important indoors. I also did the right things against Sofia today. I worked hard after the Australian Open and little by little things are coming along.”
Arvidsson’s best previous result on the Tour came right here in 2006, winning the title; this year the Swede, who turned 26 this week, upset two seeds en route to the final, most notably a 61 63 quarterfinal stunner over Melanie Oudin. Oudin, the No.2 seed, had been tapped as Sharapova’s biggest threat for the title.
Sharapova earned her 21st career singles title on the Tour. Also, by virtue of the title run, the former No.1 will rise to No.13 on the new rankings – a far cry from her career-high, but she has nothing to defend until mid-May, which is when she returned from a nine-month shoulder injury lay off last season.