Maria Shara­pova climbs rank­ings after ‘spe­cial’ Tian­jin vic­tory

Daily Messenger - - Sportlight -

LON­DON: Maria Shara­pova soared into the top 60 of the women’s ten­nis tour rank­ings after she won her first ti­tle in two years.

Shara­pova’s 7-5, 7-6 (10-8) over Aryna Sa­balenka of Be­larus to clinch the Tian­jin Open in China at the week­end marked her first vic­tory since re­turn­ing from a 15month dop­ing ban in­April.

“It is a spe­cial ti­tle, a spe­cial vic­tory,” the for­mer top-ranked Rus­sian said in a post-match news con­fer­ence. “It has been a cou­ple of years since I have held the win­ner’s tro­phy. It is a great feel­ing, a team ef­fort.” It was the 36th sin­gles ti­tle of her ca­reer, which she won without los­ing a set.

Shara­pova’s first tour­na­ment vic­tory since win­ning on clay in Rome in 2015 pushed her 29 places higher to No. 57 of the rank­ings of the women’s WTA Tour on Mon­day, mean­ing she is guar­an­teed di­rect en­try into Jan­uary’s Aus­tralian Open.

Ear­lier in the sea­son, the French Open re­fused to give Shara­pova a wild card while the US Open did grant her di­rect en­try into the main draw. She pulled out of Wim­ble­don with an in­jury.

Shara­pova had been in need of re­ceiv­ing wild cards be­cause she no longer had a rank­ing fol­low­ing her ban.

Shara­pova’s rank­ing may get an­other boost this week at the Krem­lin Cup in Moscow, which gave her a wild card last week.

“I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to play­ing in my home coun­try as the last event of the year,” Shara­pova said.

“Ob­vi­ously com­ing there with the ti­tle al­ready means a lot, but I do re­ally want to fin­ish strong, even though it is a very fast turn­around, and I don’t re­mem­ber the last time that I played three events in a row.

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