Sharapova routs Azarenka
Stuttgart - Maria Sharapova earned her first WTA title of the year on Sunday as she blasted her way past world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Stuttgart clay court tournament.
This was the 25-year-old Sharapova's 25th title of her career, but her first in 2012 having lost three finals.
It was also revenge for both this year's Australian Open and Indian Wells defeats at the hands of Azarenka and having also been runner-up at the Miami tournament, when she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets.
Her victory in 84 minutes comes with both a winner's cheque of $115 000 and a new Porsche sports car.
Azarenka needed treatment on her right wrist after the first set and did not look as sharp as she had done throughout the week, but rallied in the second to push Sharapova.
"It's a big win for me, it was my first time here and I am happy to have got a title," said world number two Sharapova, who had put out Wimbledon champion, and world number three, Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals.
"I have had some tough matches and have had to play well, it has been a good start to the claycourt season for me. I had lost a few finals recently, so I was really motivated, you always try and change a few things after you lose and they came off.
"It's a shame she was injured and couldn't play her normal game, but I am just happy to have won.
"I came to Europe a bit earlier than normal before the French Open and was just going to use this tournament as a warm-up, but it works for me."
Sharapova demolished her 22-year-old opponent in the first set, needing exactly 30 minutes having raced into a 3-0 lead.
In a competitive encounter, the world's top two players even barged into one another during a change over.
The Belarusian world number one raised her game in the second set, but Sharapova got the break she needed to make it 4-3 and then served out to win the tournament on her debut in Stuttgart.
"Congratulations to Maria, she's had a good week here," said Azarenka, whose next claycourt tournament will be Madrid, which starts May 5.
"I had a problem with my wrist and it was bothering me, but it's been bothering me all week. There is not much to say about it, I just got off court and will see what I can do to get it right before Madrid.
"I couldn't really perform, but I am not going to sit here and look for excuses. The world won't stop turning, there will be another tournament.
"It's still been a good week and I won't be thinking about it too much, there is no point looking back. I have to say Maria served well and she was on her game."