Tue, Jun 19, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Jankovic downs Sharapova to claim title

AFP , BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND

Jelena Jankovic of Serbia celebrates with her trophy after beating Maria Sharapova in three sets at the Birmingham DFS Classic women's tennis tournament on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Serbian second seed Jelena Jankovic defeated top seeded Russian Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on Sunday to win the Birmingham WTA grasscourt title and claim her fourth trophy of the year.

Both Jankovic and Sharapova, who was chasing a third Birmingham title in four years, had also played their semi-finals earlier in the day after rain had caused havoc to the schedule throughout the week.

The 22-year-old Serbian had defeated Italian eighth seed Mara Santangelo 6-1, 7-5, while Sharapova saw off French fifth seed Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-0.

Bartoli had had to play her quarter-final at the start of the day and came back from a set down to defeat Slovakian third seed Daniela Hantuchova 5-7, 6-4, 7-5.

Despite dropping the first set of the final, Jankovic finished the stronger of the two players, benefiting from having finished her semi-final two hours earlier than the Russian.

Sharapova believes her grasscourt game is shaping up well ahead of Wimbledon despite her defeat on Sunday.

"I can only take good things away from the match. I've improved tremendously and I'm a much better grass court player than I was four matches ago," Sharapova said. "Coming into the week, my goal was to play five matches, so I couldn't be more pleased. I asked to play five matches and I did."

Jankovic was delighted to have wrapped up another title.

"I just tried to stay positive out there and that's what helped me win the match," the Serbian said. "I'm so happy this is my first title on grass. My fourth one this year, and now I have titles on three different surfaces -- hard, grass and clay -- so it's a good thing for me."

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