Sharapova outlasts Kvitova to win China Open


Maria Sharapova dug deep to overcome Petra Kvitova 6-4 2-6 6-3 in the China Open final on Sunday, grinding out a victory that moves the Russian up to number two in the world rankings.

Wimbledon Open champion Kvitova broke her opponent in the very first game but Sharapova showed greater intensity towards the end to prevail in a contest that lasted two hours and 28 minutes.

French Open champion Sharapova broke her Czech opponent twice to claim the first set but Kvitova unleashed 15 winners in the second to force a decider.

Sharapova, having dropped her first set in the tournament, raised her game in the third, racing to a 3-0 lead but could not capitalise on her first match point at 5-2 with an inside out forehand into the net.

She eventually served out the match and raised her hands in celebration after Kvitova buried a return into the net.

“It was a bit of an up-and-down match I’d say — maybe not the best out of the tournament,” Sharapova told reporters.

“But it’s never easy playing against Petra. You don’t always quite get a good rhythm. She goes for a lot of shots, very deep, and she’s a very good, confident player.

“She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her play that way. But I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win,” she added.

Sharapova hit 18 winners compared to Kvitova’s 25 but committed 15 less unforced errors than her opponent’s 44 to prevail in the three-setter.

Kvitova, who won in Wuhan last week, conceded she had succumbed to fatigue towards the end of the contest.

“I was tired, but it was a final, and every time I’m playing a final, I’m giving everything I have inside,” the Czech said.

“What I did today was a great battle. It was small things and small points that make the difference in the end. I had some chances but Maria just didn’t let them go.

“She just played really well. And we played two and a half (hours), so I hope the fans enjoyed it too,” she added.