Beijing - Maria Sharapova overcame a fierce challenge from Petra Kvitova on
Sunday to win the China Open, her first title since she claimed victory
at Roland Garros earlier this year.
It was a battling performance
from the Russian world number four, who will rise to number two in the
rankings following her hard-fought 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win in Beijing,
Kvitova's first loss in nine games.
The fourth seed appeared to
have carried into the final the determination she showed in her powerful
6-0, 6-4 semi-final defeat of Serbian world number nine Ana Ivanovic.
the world number three, broke serve in the first game, but Sharapova
fought back to force three break-points in the fourth, before deservedly
breaking serve at the next opportunity.
With Sharapova at 5-4 ahead, Kvitova dragged two cross-court shots wide to give her opponent the set.
the Czech 24-year-old was dominant in the second set, racing to a 4-1
lead as she forced her opponent to stretch for a series of powerful
baseline drives that were beyond reach.
Sharapova broke serve in the sixth game by forcing the left-handed Kvitova to miss-hit a fiercely struck drive to her right.
But the 27-year-old then double-faulted to hand a 5-2 lead to Kvitova, who claimed the next game to set up the decider.
was then at her ruthless best, taking two serves from Kvitova before a
third daring attempt in the eighth game with the scores at 5-2 in her
The marathon nine-minute duel saw Kvitova rescue a match point before closing out the game.
Sharapova concluded her gritty show of force by taking all the points
in her final service game to seal her fourth title of the year.
victory was Sharapova's sixth over Kvitova in the eight games they have
previously played, with the Russian winning the last four meetings
before Sunday's final.
Sharapova's previous titles in 2014 came in
Stuttgart and Madrid in the lead up to her French Open victory, her
fifth Grand Slam title.
She crashed out the US Open to eventual
runner-up Caroline Wozniacki in the last 16, and was defeated by
Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets at the same stage at the
Wuhan Open last week.
Kvitova, meanwhile, won the inaugural
tournament, her third title of the year. But she will drop from third to
fourth in the rankings after failing to beat Sharapova in Beijing and
extend her unbeaten run in China.