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Sharapova tames Li Na to bag title

STUTTGART: April 29, 2013 Agencies 1:42 IST

Sania-Bethanie face Lisicki-Barthel

Russia's top seed and holder Maria Sharapova returns the ball to win against China's Li Na in the final of the Stuttgart tennis Grand Prix April 28, 2013. REUTERS
World number two Maria Sharapova saved her best performance of the week for last when she successfully defended her Stuttgart Grand Prix title with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over second seed Li Na of China to kick off her clay-court season in style.

Sharapova, who had needed three sets in all her previous rounds in Stuttgart, found it easier against Li, with her serve setting her up for her second consecutive victory in the indoor arena. The top seed, her loud grunts echoing around the stadium, snatched a break at the start, with a sizzling backhand down the line that left Li stranded.

Li sent a crosscourt backhand into the net to give the Russian another break and allow her to go 4-1 up.

The Australian Open finalist bounced back in the next game and grabbed her own first break when Sharapova sent a forehand long after a long rally.

Sharapova was in no mood for adventures, however, and quickly established a double break cushion, then served out the first set on her first opportunity when Li sank a return into the net after another well-placed serve. The pair traded blows until Sharapova earned another break point and went 4-3 up.

With a superb first-serve figure of 76 percent throughout the game, she kept her opponent pinned to the back and earned her second title of the year when Li double-faulted on the first match point.

Sania-Bethanie in final


Sania Mirza and Bethanie Mattek-Sands earned themselves a shot at their third title of the season by reaching the doubles final. The unseeded Indo-American pair carved out a 6-4, 7-5 win over local favourite combination of Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals.

They will take on Sabine Lisicki and Mona Barthel, who got the better of Darija Jurak of Croatia and Katalin Marosi 6-3, 6-4 in the other semifinal.

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