Sharapova ends title drought as Jankovic retires
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:46
Maria Sharapova claimed her first title in 18 months after Jelena Jankovic was forced to retire in the Pan Pacific Open final.
The battle between the former world No.1s came to a premature end as, ironically, a shoulder injury forced Jankovic to pull out while trailing 5-2 in the first set.
The Russian, who had reached the Rogers Cup final ahead of the US Open where she lost to Elena Dementieva, has now beaten Jankovic in five of their last six meetings.
“It was my second final of the year and I was a bit nervous”
“It was a tough start today,” admitted Sharapova, after recovering from 2-0 down to win the next five games. “Jelena started off so strong – it was my second final of the year and I was a bit nervous.
“But I played well enough this week to know I could give her a good match. I just wanted to keep fighting out there and unfortunately Jelena had to stop,” she added. “I wish her a speedy recovery, and hopefully we can play in the final here next year.”
Sharapova’s last tournament win came at Amelia Island back in April 2008. She only returned to action in May this year following surgery to her right shoulder last October, which briefly threatened to end her career.
The 22-year-old has now won four of her 20 career titles in Tokyo, including her first, and will move her back into the top 20 in the world rankings on Monday.
Jankovic now faces a race to be fit for the China Open next week in Beijing.
The Serbian had complained of shooting pains down her right arm at the end of the seventh game and called for the trainer.
Despite her wrist being taped up, the Serb played just two more points after the timeout before retiring.
“I had real pain in the shoulder going down to my wrist,” Jankovic said. “The wrist is swollen and the whole arm is inflamed.
“I’ll see if I can play in Beijing after I get treatment. I wanted to finish but I couldn’t even hold the racquet. I had to stop or risk maybe not being able to finish the year.”
In the doubles final, Ai Sugiyama’s career didn’t quite get a fairytale finish as the 34-year-old and partner Daniela Hantuchova were defeated 6-4 6-2 by Alisa Kleybanova and Francesca Schiavone.
The Japanese has quit after a 17-year career in which she won three grand slam doubles titles and a mixed doubles crown.
“Tennis gave me so much,” said the former doubles world No.1, who reached No.4 in the singles rankings. “I fought on the tennis court for such a long time. This was everything to me.”
Sugiyama won six singles titles and 38 doubles titles during her career, in addition to the US Open mixed doubles title in 1999.