October 5, 2014
Maria Sharapova defeated Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to claim the China Open title with a typical display of stamina and determination.
In doing so, she leap-frogged Kvitova and Simona Halep to become the world number two, behind her nemesis Serena Williams.
Although this was her fourth title of the season, Sharapova hadn’t won a tournament since claiming the French Open back at the start of the European summer.
Earlier in the year, her career had seemed to be on the slide. She had been just one defeat away from dropping out of the top ten for the first time since 2011.
Rejuvenated on clay, Sharapova stayed in the hunt on different surfaces for long enough over recent months to boost her rankings dramatically with this victory in China.
Kvitova, who won the Wuhan Open last week, couldn’t recapture that sort of form, or show the class and power which won her Wimbledon for a second time in July.
You have to hand it to Maria, who took a battering in the second set but knew she still had the mental strength to prevail in the decider.
A woman who has nothing left to prove in tennis, and oversees a string of profitable enterprises away from the courts could be forgiven for losing her appetite for the game.
Instead she battles as though there is no tomorrow, hitting every ball with the passion of a teenager. Sharapova certainly found her reward yesterday. She is on the way back up at a time in her career when many had suspected she might start to take her foot off the gas.
Congratulations Maria, no one deserves success more than you because nobody works harder!