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Tour report: Mutual success for Sharapova and Dimitrov

Maria Sharapova poised for a backhand shot.
by Ilya Kneppelhout
Monday 28 April 2014

Last week was a successful one for Maria Sharapova and Grigor Dimitrov, Sharapova winning her 30th WTA title in Stuttgart, and Dimitrov capturing his third ATP World Tour title in Bucharest. Others with title success were  María-Teresa Torró-Flor in Marrakech, and Kei Nishikori in Barcelona. Wimbledon.com reports...

On Sunday, Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title of 2014 in Stuttgart, beating Serbia's Ana Ivanovic in the finals. After a tough first round against Lucie Safarova, which included three tie-break sets, the sixth-seeded Russian didn’t lose a set on her way to the final. World No.3 Agnieska Radwanska and clay specialist Sara Errani were other victims of the aggressive groundstrokes of Sharapova. The final between the two former world No.1s was a high standard match, both women hitting more winners than unforced errors. Ivanovic overwhelmed Sharapova in the first set with her big forehand, taking a 5-0 lead. After a short comeback from the Russian, Ivanovic won the set 6-3, and trailed Sharapova 3-1 in the second.  

"For the first half of the match I thought it might not be my day today, but somehow I turned it around," Sharapova said. Her will to win made her play better, grunting became louder, and the score was stable again. It seemed there was no one who could stop Sharapova on her way to her third consecutive title in Stuttgart, and her third Porsche as an added extra. 

Ivanovic was happy with the way she played and did all she could. “She's just a great player, and that's what happens when you play against great players in big matches like this. You need to use your opportunities”, she said after competing in her 18th WTA final.

On the same day, Sharapova’s boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov battled against the unseeded Czech Lukas Rosol at the ATP 250 in Bucharest, 854 miles away. The Australian Open quarter-finalist didn’t lose a set on his way to the final. In the semi-finals he played against the Frenchman Gael Monfils, who had to retire after just 16 minutes of play due to an ankle injury. Dimitrov continued this impressive streak against the defending champion, beating the tall Czech 7-6(2) 6-1. Even though Dimitrov won his matches without any struggles, he said: “It feels good to have won, I lifted my game, not having been happy with my previous matches in the tournament.

“I have worked really hard to start winning titles. I have put in enough effort, time and sacrifices to get here”, he added. The young Bulgarian will rise to No.14 in the rankings, while Rosol earned 150 points and will rise to No.51.

The biggest upset of the week took place at the oldest Spanish tennis club, during the Barcelona Open. Nicolas Almagro beat fellow Spaniard and world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the quarter finals. Nadal had never lost to Almagro in their previous 10 meetings, and Nadal had 41 straight wins in Barcelona, only having dropped two of the last 76 sets. However, the unseeded Santiago Giraldo surprised Almagro on his turn, beating him in straight sets. In the other half of the draw, David Ferrer lost to Gabashvili, creating chances for Kei Nishikori and Ernest Gulbis. The Japanese 24-year-old, who moved to America to train at Nick Bollettieri's academy aged 14, won this match convincing. He continued his good form in his second clay court final and beat Giraldo 6-2 6-2. It was the first final to not feature a Spaniard since 1996. Nishikori is now the first Japanese-born player to win a clay-court title on the ATP World Tour. "I was playing well," said Nishikori. "I felt I should be in the final and I'm very happy to win. My next goal is to get to the Top 10.” As a result, he has climbed up the rankings to No.12.

At the international WTA tournament in Marrakech, the 21-year-old María-Teresa Torró-Flor beat Romina Oprandi 6-3 3-6 6-3. Both players were unseeded, and both were making their debut in a WTA final. After a great variation of big groundstrokes and soft touch, Torró-Flor was 5-1 up in the third set, but got broken, mainly because of nerves. At 5-3 she rose to the occasion, and ended the match. "It was difficult, and I had to fight a lot, but I feel really happy to win my first title," she said.


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