SPORT

Sharapova wins in Japan

Tokyo: Crowd-favourite Maria Sharapova captured her first title since her injury lay-off by beating Jelena Jankovic to win the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Russian, who returned to action in May after a right shoulder injury, regained the title she won in 2005, when the Serbian seventh seed retired with an arm injury at 5-2.

“It was very tough because Jelena started off so strong.

It was my second final of the year, so I was a little bit nervous,” said Sharapova.

Sharapova found herself 0-40 down in the opening game, which she lost two points later, hitting a backhanded drop shot wide.

She then went 0-2 down before moving into top gear, hitting an array of power-packed strokes and aggressive service returns to take the following four games in a row.

Jankovic, who needed court-side treatment to her right arm in the semifinals on Friday, took a medical time-out for the same injury at the beginning of the eighth game. But Jankovic abandoned the match when she went down love-30.

Troicki upsets Tsonga

At the Thailand Open, fourth seed Viktor Troicki skewered a possible all-French final with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 knockout of fatigued title-holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The Serb, looking for his first career title at the ATP level, will play on Sunday against composed and confident French second seed Gilles Simon, who put out Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 7-6(3).

Troicki, ranked 32nd, has spoiled the day twice for 2008 Australian Open finalist Tsonga in Asia after beating the No. 7 in Tokyo last year.

“I’ve beaten top 10 players before,” he said. “They are just human like the rest of us and are not unbeatable.

“I had a good day and I won,” he added, having overcome 11 Tsonga aces and broke the powerful Frenchman four times.

“I’ve played really well this week. I know Simon will be a tough opponent but I’m ready to go for the victory. I want to win my first title now.”

Tsonga said that he ran out of energy after sweeping the opening set and could not recover.

“I gave a lot in the Davis Cup last week and came here without much energy. It happens in tennis, we play a tough schedule every week, everywhere.”



The results: At Tokyo: Pan Pacific Open: Final: Maria Sharapova bt Jelena Jankovic 5-2 (retd.).

At Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Open: Semifinals: Fernando Verdasco bt Fernando Gonzalez 6-4, 7-5; Nikolay Davydenko bt Robin Soderling 1-6, 7-6(1), 6-2.

At Bangkok: Thailand Open: Semifinals: Gilles Simon bt Juegen Melzer 6-4, 7-6(3); Viktor Troicki bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.

At Beijing: China Open: First round: Flavia Pennetta bt Han Xinyun 7-6(2), 6-2; Alize Cornet bt Samantha Stosur 6-4, 4-6, 6-3; Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova bt Sybille Bammer 7-5, 6-1; Aleksandra Wozniak bt Aravane Rezai 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(5); Venus Williams bt Vera Dushevina 6-2, 7-6(1). — Agencies