Maria Sharapova wins comeback title in Tokyo

Russia's Maria Sharapova has claimed her first WTA tour title since Amelia Island in April 2008 after Serbia's Jelena Jankovic had to retire from their Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo on Saturday due to injury.


AFP - Crowd favourite Maria Sharapova captured her first title since her injury lay-off by beating Jelena Jankovic to win the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Russian, who returned to action in May after a right shoulder injury, won the battle between the former world number ones to regain the title she won in 2005, when the Serbian seventh seed retired with an arm injury at 5-2.

"It was very tough because Jelena started off so strong. It was my second final of the year, so I was a little bit nervous," said Sharapova.

"I wanted to perform really well. I feel like I played good enough tennis to give her a go today and I just wanted to keep fighting out there."

Sharapova found herself 0-40 down in the opening game, which she lost two points later, hitting a backhanded drop shot wide.

She then went 0-2 down before moving into top gear, hitting an array of power-packed strokes and aggressive service returns to take the following four games in a row.

Jankovic, who needed court-side treatment to her right arm in the semi-finals on Friday, took a medical time-out for the same injury at the beginning of the eighth game.

But Jankovic abandoned the match when she went down love-30.

"It started yesterday during the match I guess because the roof was closed and it's very humid in there. The ball got really heavy. I started to feel pain in my shoulder, then it was going down to my wrist," said Jankovic.

She said her wrist was now swollen and she had no power to hold the racket.

"I don't know what happened there. But it is a new injury, started yesterday. I tried my best... but I would just get weaker and weaker and there was more and more pain. Unfortunately, I had to stop. I couldn't finish it.

"Hopefully, I will recover for the (China Open) tournament in Beijing, which is really important for me. But we will see," added Jankovic.

Meanwhile, Sharapova said: "It's never easy to win a match like this. Obviously, it's very important for Jelena to be healthy and we want to compete at 100 percent.

"It's very difficult for her to perform at her best right now. We have gotten a lot of injuries. This is towards the end of the year. I wish Jelena a speedy recovery," she added.

Sharapova's fifth win against Jankovic in seven meetings earned her the 350,000-dollar top prize.

For Sharapova, who claimed her first career WTA singles and doubles titles at the 2003 Japan Open on the same court, it was her first title since Amelia Island in April 2008, and 20th overall, four of them in Tokyo.

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