Victory in the title match of the Western & Southern Open was so close to the 2009 Cincinnati champion Jelena Jankovic, but last year’s runner-up Maria Sharapova is never defeated until she loses the match point and her well-known willpower gave her the edge in the crucial second-set tiebreak when the Russian won five successive points.
The match featured 20 double faults and 16 service breaks (8 on both sides), most prominently in the third set in which both players failed to hold their serve in the first six games. Sharapova was the first to stop that trend for a 4-3 lead. An extra break later gave her the set and the match 4-6 7-6(3) 6-3.
Reaching the final itself is a satisfactory achievement for the former world No.1 Jankovic, whose recent results are far from where she should be and her title drought is now 17-month old. It is disappointing that she lost as just one extra push or stroke of luck would have been enough for her to win the title. We were reminded once again how big of a fighter Sharapova is and her head-to-head record against Jankovic is now 6-1, including 3-1 in WTA finals.
Victories that Sharapova made at the $2,050,000 Premier-level Cincinnati event: Anastasia Rodionova in the second round, followed by Svetlana Kuznetsova, Samantha Stosur, Vera Zvonareva and finally Jelena Jankovic.
It is Sharapova’s 24th career title and her second title in 2011, after Rome in May. In the rankings she improved from No.7 to No.4.