Maria Sharapova claimed a hat-trick of Stuttgart titles on Sunday after coming from behind to win a three-set battle royal against Ana Ivanovic in Sunday’s final.
Having won the WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix at the German city in 2012 and last year, the 27-year-old Sharapova had to work hard to overpower Ivanovic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in just longer than two hours for her 13th consecutive victory on Stuttgart’s clay courts and 30th final win of her career.
“That was a tough bit of work,” said Sharapova, who has won all four Grand Slam titles. “I have always believed in my chances and the fighting spirit is something that comes from within me.”
This was the first time she has claimed a third title at an individual tournament and comes on the back of her shoulder injury last year.
“This time around it’s been extremely tough, that’s why this win is so special,” Sharapova said.
“I will need to build a new garage to get all the cars in,” she joked as she collected her third Porsche in as many years from the tournament director along with a 96,774 euros (US$133,900) winner’s check.
It was the Russian’s first clay-court tournament in her buildup to this year’s French Open, an event she lost to Serena Williams in last year’s final.
“We have seen what a great player Maria is,” Ivanovic said.
Having been taken to three sets by the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova in her first-round match, Russia’s Sharapova swept into the final with straight-set wins over compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, top seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and Italian clay-court specialist Sara Errani in the semi-finals.
Yet the ninth seeded Ivanovic made the Russian dig deep and wasted no time asserting herself over Sharapova, racing to a 5-0 lead in the first set before the defending champion responded, but the 26-year-old Serbian held her serve to take the first set.
Having won her previous tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, last month, Ivanovic went 3-1 up in the second, but the match’s momentum turned against her when Sharapova broke her, then fought her way back to take the set.
Ivanovic had been chasing her first win over the Russian since the French Open semi-final in 2007, when Ivanovic went onto lose to Justine Henin in the final, but the Serbian ran out of steam and sixth seed Sharapova showed her experience to win 11 of the last 13 games.