Russia’s Maria Sharapova won her third career Grand Slam title with a 7-5 6-3 victory over Serbia's Ana Ivanovic at the 2008 Australian Open.
Last year, Sharapova won only three games in the Australian Open final against Serena Williams, but this year she was simply unstoppable. During the whole tournament at Melbourne Park fifth-seeded Sharapova hasn't dropped a set, and I believe that in the final there was nothing Ivanovic could have done to win the match, if she had taken her chances, she could have only made it longer.
The 20-year-old Sharapova was stunning in all aspects of the game and all in all unbeatable. Fourth seed Ivanovic was able to win only few points on her opponent’s serve. Ivanovic’s first point on Sharapova's serve was in Sharapova's fourth service game – that's how strong the Russian was.
Ivanovic started the match solidly, her serve was good and she kept everything under control. But, in the fifth game Sharapova broke for a 3-2 lead. Later on Ivanovic managed to rebreak and establish a 5-4 lead. Soon, she was only two points away from winning the first set, but didn’t make use of her chances. Even though she was so close, she eventually lost the set, and that was probably the crucial part of the match. But as I have said, Sharapova was so powerful that I believe she would have recovered even if she had been a set down. In the second set Sharapova broke Ivanovic twice and that was enough for the sweet victory.
Sharapova will definitely keep this victory close to her heart. To win a Grand Slam is a phenomenal way to start a new season after a disappointing and injury-struck 2007.
Even though Ivanovic lost this final, she proved to be one of the main threats in women's tennis. Also, from her previous Grand Slam final, at Rolland Garros 2007 against Justine Henin, when she was paralyzed by fear and excitement, we can see a huge improvement. Ivanovic was mentally prepared and this final was not one-sided as the one in Paris. So, we can expect Ana to play many more Grand Slam finals in her life, and she will win the big trophy sooner or later.
Still, even though she knows she has loads of potential, after the Saturday's loss Ivanovic was very disappointed and the fact that she will improve to the world No.2 gave her little comfort. Sharapova will remain world No.5.
I would like to congratulate Sharapova on the well-deserved victory, and both the players on the fantastic tennis they played at this year’s Australian Open.
Oh, I'll be missing the sleepless nights. I'm sure many of you will understand me. (photos via Yahoo)