Sharapova edges Radwanska at WTA Finals
SINGAPORE (AP) — Maria Sharapova won her first complete match since Wimbledon in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against Agnieszka Radwanska at the WTA Finals on Sunday.
Sharapova was sidelined after the Wimbledon semifinals until the Wuhan tournament in China four weeks ago with a prolonged foot injury.
She retired in the third set of her first match at Wuhan with a left wrist injury.
“I haven’t completed a match since July, so I think it’s always challenging to come back from not one injury, but a few,” Sharapova said. “I was just really thrilled that despite not playing these last few months and not playing my best tennis, I was able to take myself to another level physically, which I didn’t exactly expect that I would be able to.”
Third-seeded Sharapova, looking rusty from the lack of match play, needed 2 hours, 47 minutes to finally nail down the win against fifth-seeded Radwanska.
The Russian’s serve was erratic and while she posted eight aces, she also double-faulted 12 times.
Sharapova served for the match at 5-2 but dropped her serve. At 5-4, she double-faulted on her first match point, but won the match two points later when Radwanska netted a forehand.
“Matches like this, I think they take a few years out of your life,” Sharapova said. “But you know what? I’m happy I got through it. Yeah, I’m going to feel it tomorrow. I’m proud that I was able to get through.”
In the first set, Sharapova netted a backhand on a second break point in the ninth game to hand Radwanska the service break.
Radwanska served out the first set in the next game off another Sharapova backhand error.
Sharapova raced to a 4-1 lead in the second set. Although she surrendered one of her two service breaks in the seventh game, she prevailed to send the match into the decisive third set.
This marked Sharapova’s 13th career win in 15 matches played against Radwanska. It was also the third time they played a marathon encounter at the season-ending tournament.
In 2012 and 2014, Sharapova also defeated Radwanska in three-set, three hour-plus round-robin matches at the WTA Finals.
“I think we (are) always playing three hours match in championships, so I’m not surprised,” said Radwanska, a two-time semifinalist at the WTA Finals. “I guess she was just better today.”
Sharapova won the WTA Finals in her debut at the tournament in 2004. She was also a finalist in 2007 and 2012.
Also Sunday, top-seeded Simona Halep routed U.S. Open champion Flavia Pennetta 6-0, 6-3.
Halep, last year’s finalist in Singapore, raced to a 6-0, 1-0 lead before seventh-seeded Pennetta won a game.
“I feel that I can play my best tennis here,” Halep said.
The Romanian saved both break points she faced in the second set and broke Pennetta’s serve four times.
Pennetta, who only qualified for the WTA Finals last week, had beaten Halep the last time they played in the U.S. Open semifinals.
“I didn’t play the right game against her at the U.S. Open,” Halep said. “Here I was well-prepared and I knew how to play against her.”