Maria Sharapova Reigns in Memphis

2010 Cellular South Cup
By Hiland Doolittle, February 22nd, 2010
Maria Sharapova reigns in Memphis

Maria Sharapova

Highly regarded media magnet and photogenic powerhouse Maria Sharapova returned to winning form while claiming the Cellular South Cup in Memphis. The one-time world number one has had a tough go since returning to the tour in the middle of the 2009 season. Following her early exit at this year’s Australian Open, Maria vowed to return to form and ascend the tour’s ranking ladder.

The victim of surprising losses to Melanie Oudin in New York last year and with a first round exit in Melbourne this year, many analysts wondered if the blonde bombshell might rather be in the photo studio than on the tennis court. Sharapova arrived at Memphis with a purpose, “I feel great. I came here for matches, I got five and I got the win, so it was a good week.”

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While most of the tour’s upper echelon players were competing in the $2 million Dubai Open, Maria scurried to Memphis to assume the top spot and play like a champion. She did not disappoint tournament organizers and was a gracious champion.

Maria Sharapova marched through the field losing just 21 games in ten sets this week. A final round dismantling of Sweden’s 26-year old Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1 showcased her tremendous ability. Maria said she had been working on her game and this event against a lightly regarded field highlighted the difference in levels of play on the tour.

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The stiffest challenge was to be provided by America’s third ranked player, little Melanie Oudin, who reached her first Sony Ericsson semifinal last week in Paris. Arvidsson spoiled the tournament organizer’s plans by thrashing the 18-year old Georgia Peach and number 2 seed 6-1, 6-3.

Arvidsson, the 2006 Cellular South Champion, had a long week. As a qualifying play-in, she won more matches than any other player at the event and in knocking off two seeded players will be jumping up from her 102nd place tour ranking.

Against Sharapova, Sofia started well and held on to get to 2-2 in the first set. After that the lights went out for the buxom Swede until the match ended and she received her biggest paycheck in two years.

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For Sharapova, the championship will help her rise to number 14 on the tour and was her 21st WTA Sony Ericsson career title. Every win is a good win. Time will tell if Maria is all the way back. In the meantime, stay tuned for more Sharapova drama and those exciting photo ops.


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