WTA Stuttgart: Maria Sharapova defends title with straight sets victory
Last Updated: 28/04/13 4:55pm
Maria Sharapova successfully defended her WTA Porsche Grand Prix title with a straight sets victory against China's Li Na in Stuttgart.
The top seed secured her 16th straight win on clay with a 6-4 6-3 success in just over 90 minutes to seal her second title of the year after winning in Indian Wells.
In a battle of the last two French Open champions it was the 26-year-old Russian who collected the 29th title of her career and a sports car to go with it.
The world No 2 made a bright start and snatched a break with a sumptuous backhand down the line that left Li stranded.
Li, 31, then sent a crosscourt backhand into the net to give Sharapova another break and allow her to go 4-1 up, but she immediately broke back as the Russian sent a forehand long after an exhausting rally.
However, the four-time Grand Slam winner quickly established a double break cushion, then served out the first set on her first opportunity when Li sank a return into the net after another well-placed serve.
The second set went with serve as the pair traded blows until Sharapova earned another break to move 4-3 up.
She kept her opponent pinned to the back of the court with a superb first-serve figure of 76 per cent.
And Li double-faulted on the first match point to gift Sharapova victory to become the first player to defend the Stuttgart title since Lindsey Davenport in 2005.
Australian Open runner-up and world No 5 Na failed to handle Sharapova's more aggressive style throughout and has now lost nine of their last 14 meetings.
"I knew this was going to be the toughest match of the week, so I am really pleased with the way things worked out," said Sharapova, who had lost the previous meeting to Li in the semi-final of January's Australian Open.
"She has played good tennis all week and I am really happy to have won here again."