Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova claimed the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Sunday by defeating top-ranked Lindsay Davenport in a third-set tiebreaker.
Second-seeded Sharapova captured her first Pan Pacific title and prevented Davenport from winning a record fifth title after a hard fought 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) win at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
“I’m very happy to have won,” the Russian teenager said. “Lindsay played an amazing match and it all came down to the tiebreaker, so obviously it was a very tough match.”
Top-seeded Davenport, who lost to Serena Williams in the final of the Australian Open a week ago, took a medical time out after the first set and came back to take the momentum despite a sore left thigh.
She produced 13 aces but couldn’t keep up with the 17-year-old Sharapova when it mattered most.
“I left the court to get some support on my left thigh,” said Davenport. “I just went back out there and tried to keep the points as short as possible. In the tiebreaker, she came up with some great shots and I couldn’t run down many balls.”
Leading 6-5 in the tiebreaker, Sharapova won when Davenport couldn’t catch up to her forehand return down the line.
Sharapova, who lost in the semifinals of the Australian Open to Williams, also served well in Sunday’s final and had nine aces.
“I served well in the first set,” said Sharapova, who pocketed the $189,000 winner’s check. “But she came out after the break and got a little confidence. It’s tough when your opponent serves so well. I served well too but it was my return that I was most satisfied with.”
Davenport was gunning for her fifth Pan Pacific title, which would have made her the most successful player in the 22-year history of the event. Martina Hingis has also won here four times.
“Maria is a great player,” said Davenport. “I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the final in the years to come.”
Sharapova has a history of winning in Japan. She is the two-time defending champion at the Japan Open.
“I guess this is my lucky place,” said Sharapova. “I don’t know why but I always seem to play well here.”
With Sunday’s victory, Sharapova will move up to No. 3 in the WTA rankings, behind Davenport and Williams but said she has no timetable for claiming the No. 1 spot.
“My job is to go out and perform well,” said Sharapova. “I have no timetable to become No. 1 in the world. If it happens, it happens.”
In the doubles final, the second-seeded pair of Janette Husarova of Slovakia and Elena Likhovtseva of Russia downed Davenport and fellow American Corina Morariu 6-4, 6-3.
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