Maria Sharapova brought her A game and some to Court Philippe Chatrier in Saturday’s championship match. Sara Errani had the courage but not the firepower to dissuade the determined champion. With her straight set 6-3,6-2 victory. Maria joins a choice group of just nine women to all hold all four Grand Slam titles. It is a long-time since Maria hoisted her first Grand Slam trophy earned at Wimbledon in 2004 at the ripe age of 17. She added the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.
The 2012 French Open Championship marks what has been a long, arduous climb back up the rankings after suffering painful shoulder surgery and experiencing other nagging injuries. Sharapova has rebuilt her game and developed an outstanding competitive psyche. Her shoulder still hampers her serving game but her baseline game is stronger than ever.
Sharapova has had a great season thus far. She will add the French Open to her Stuttgart and Roman titles this season. She has also reached the finals in Melbourne (loss to Azarenka), Indian Wells (Azarenka) and Miami (Radwanska). When Maria has lost, it has been her serve that has let her down.
Not so against Sara Errani today. Maria has all cylinders firing. She committed five double faults but had six aces. Sara was able to break once in each set but was broken 5 times. Errani’s soft first and weak second serves presented Sharapova many opportunities to hit outright winners off the return. Most of Maria’s 29 unforced turnovers occurred when Errani could get Maria moving. The 6’0” Russian struck 37 outright winners, many of which left Errani flatfooted.
Sara only registered 11 unforced errors but Sharapova’s ability to hit clear winners proved to be the difference. Unlike Samantha Stosur, who Errani upset in the semis, Sharapova carried the play. She understood that Errani capitalizes when her opponents lose their concentration. With Sharapova, that will be after the Olympics.
Sharapova played through a field marked with upsets. While Maria is most vulnerable on clay, she had a successful run preparing for the Open with her surprising win in Rome. As she turns to grass, her prospects look good for Wimbledon and the Olympics. Maria will leave Paris with some money in her pocket, her fourth Grand Slam title and the world’s number one ranking. This champion deserves all of that.
For Errani, this two week marathon was filled with great memories. Partnered with Roberta Vinci, Errani won the women’s doubles title, where they were the fourth seed. The twosome was Runner-up in Melbourne. In the singles competition, she defeated Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Angelique Kerber and Samantha Stosur. Her stellar tournament will put her in the top ten for the first time in her career. With her six wins in doubles and six wins in singles, Sara will depart Paris with more wins than any other competitor and several more than Sara might have thought possible.
For Maria Sharapova and Sara Errani, the 20-12 French Open was a win-win event.
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