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Wed Apr 23 12:24:11 SAST 2014

Maria seals a career grand slam in Paris

SAPA-AFP | 10 June, 2012 10:140 Comments
Maria Sharapova yesterday

RUSSIA'S Maria Sharapova yesterday became the 10th woman in tennis history to win all four grand slam titles when she defeated Italy's Sara Errani 6-3 6-2 in the French Open final.

In a one-sided contest the second seed and new world No1 led from the start, fixing the 21st-seeded Errani with her biggest shots and giving her little chance to employ her own game.

The title follows Sharapova's grand slam triumphs at Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 - and crowns her return from a shoulder injury that nearly wrecked her career.

The 90-minute final, though, did little to restore the reputation of women's tennis at Roland Garros, continuing a run of straight-sets since 2001, when Jennifer Capriati beat Kim Clijsters in a three-set thriller.

It was the first meeting between the two and the contrasts were stark - notably in height with the 1.88m tall Sharapova towering 24cm above the little Italian.

Errani, 10 days younger than her opponent, was little known outside of her own country until she won three clay-court titles in the buildup to Roland Garros in recent weeks.

She then defeated two previous champions on the way to a first appearance in a grand slam final.

Sharapova opened confidently on serve and then used her booming ground strokes to pin back a tight Errani, breaking serve when the Italian hit long.

The Russian, playing her first final at Roland Garros at her 10th attempt, moved 3-0 up and then converted a third break point to take a 4-0 lead.

The fifth game of the second set was crucial as Sharapova opened her shoulders to hit some big winners, converting her third break point to go 4-1 ahead.

Errani fought back and broke Sharapova's service for the second time.

But the Russian put that aside to win the next two games.

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