Tennis: Radwanska captures maiden title

Agnieszka Radwanska. right, of Poland, holds her trophy after defeating Maria Sharapova of Russia, in the women's singles final. Photo / AP.
Agnieszka Radwanska. right, of Poland, holds her trophy after defeating Maria Sharapova of Russia, in the women's singles final. Photo / AP.

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska captured her maiden Miami women's title today, denying world No.2 Maria Sharapova a shot at her first victory in four finals appearances.

Radwanska earned her ninth career WTA Tour title and second victory of 2012 with a 7-5 6-4 dismantling of the mistake-prone Sharapova.

The 23-year-old from Krakow won earlier this year in Dubai, but this marked the biggest win of her career as she competed in Miami at a new career high ranking of fourth in the world.

"I got a lot of good wins this year against top players," said Radwanska.

"I was trying from the beginning to focus on my serve, put my first serve in and go for it. I think I did a really good job today and the serve was the key."

Radwanska becomes just the second multiple title winner on the WTA Tour this season, behind world No.1 Victoria Azarenka, as she clinched the Miami crown without dropping a set in six matches.

Radwanska clearly won the matchup of her savvy all-court game against Sharapova's power display.

"I thought she played extremely well, was very consistent, got that extra ball back and I made that extra mistake," Sharapova said.

"She didn't give me many errors. When I had my chances at break point, I didn't take them. When she had them, she did."

Radwanska finished with one ace and hit just six winners against Sharapova but limited her unforced errors to 10 in the one hour, 44 minute centre court match played in sweltering temperatures.

Radwanska broke in the final game of both sets jumping out to big leads both times.

She clinched the title on the first of two championship points when Sharapova hammered a backhand long.

Sharapova held serve in the first set to get to 5-5 but then her game started to unravel.

Radwanska broke in the 12th game to win the first set in 57 minutes. Sharapova made 26 unforced errors in the first set compared to just eight for the Pole.

Radwanska, who improved to 26-4 in 2012, beat Sharapova for just the second time in nine career meetings, but this was the first time they had met in two years.

The only other time she had beaten the Russian was at the 2007 US Open.

"I lost against her a few times before," Radwanska said. "Today was a very tight match. I was just better for couple of points each set."

Saturday's loss leaves the 24-year-old Sharapova still chasing her first win in Miami, the first professional tournament she would watch each year as a youngster.

Her family would make the annual four-hour trek by car to Miami from the international tennis school she was attending at the time.

"It feels tough now because it's only 30 minutes after you lose, so not the easiest thing in the world," said Sharapova, who also lost in the final of her last tournament in Indian Wells.

"These last two tournaments are the toughest just because they're so close together and playing six matches in an event. I would have loved to be the winner, but that is just the way it goes."

-AAP

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