“It has been a long road, so this is very rewarding. The finals are the stage that I want to be at and where I want to do well,” said Maria Sharapova. After not playing
competitively for over a year, the former world No. 1 made her comeback on the WTA Tour at this year’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix at the end of April. In Tianjin, the north Chinese metropolis, she again won in straight sets, this time against the world No. 102. The five-time Grand Slam champion and the highly-impressive up-and-coming youngster served up an exciting and, for long stretches, top class match that the favourite closed out in a second set tie-break with her fourth match point after two hours and five minutes.
That the task against Aryna Sabalenka, who is also a part of the Belarus team that has reached the Fed Cup final, was not going to be easy was something Maria Sharapova sensed before the final “It's very flattering when someone looks up to you, but it's also very dangerous because they want your position. They want to be the champion.”
The success means that Maria Sharapova, who next week will play the Kremlin Cup in Moscow for the first time in ten years, will climb to No. 57 in the WTA world rankings.