I started to worry about Ana Ivanovic’s chances in the final of the 2014 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix when she was up 5-0 in the first set. Sure, it looked like she was on her way to dropping a bagel on 2-time defending champion Maria Sharapova. However, that 5-0 was a lot closer than that zero would suggest. 4 of those 5 games were deuce games. The last of those games was especially hard fought. More than that, Ana sometimes has a tough time closing out opponents, especially mentally tough ones. There are few who are any tougher than Masha. Instead of closing out a bagel set, Ana started to crack, catching her service toss and looking a little less aggressive. Sharapova raised her game to championship level. Ivanovic dropped her next two services games, sandwiched around a Masha hold of serve, before finally breaking Sharapova to escape with a 6-3 first set triumph. But you could feel the momentum had swung. You could sense that the 2-time defending champion was going to come back and win her 3rd straight title in Stuttgart. And that’s exactly what she did.
After falling behind 0-5 in the first set, Masha won 15 of the next 21 games, playing her highest quality tennis of the year, to claim the Stuttgart title, 3-6 6-4 6-1. Actually, Ana didn’t play poorly over the last 2 sets. In fact, she briefly went up 3-1 in the second set. Masha just lifted her game to a level that Ivanovic didn’t match. Sharapova became a Porsche Global Brand Ambassador in 2012 and hasn’t lost a match at their sponsored tournament since, going 13-0. It was the first time she’s won the same tournament 3 times. It was also her 30th career title. This is a great springboard to hopefully propel Masha forward in the clay court season toward a deep run, and maybe a second title, at Roland Garros. And as if her day couldn’t get better, Masha’s boyfriend, Grigor Dmitrov, won an ATP title in Bucharest.
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6 MARIA SHARAPOVA (won 3-6 6-4 6-1 vs 9 Ana Ivanovic)