Last year’s runner-up Maria Sharapova took it one step further this year, defeating former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in a three-set thriller on Center Court to claim the title 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3.
With the win, Sharapova will now be ranked World No. 4 when the Monday rankings are released.
"In the end, it could have gone either way. We kept breaking each other in the beginning. Felt like one of us played a few good points and than the other one and the levels were up and down throughout the match. So, yeah, I'm just fortunate that at the end of the day I'm the winner," said the three-time Grand Slam tournament champion.
In a match that saw numerous breaks of serve, Sharapova clinched the lead after taking Jankovic’s serve at 4-3 in the third set.
By pushing the Serb to a deciding set, Sharapova now holds a perfect 11-0 in three set matches this year, including her win over World No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals.
Leading their career head-to-head 6-1 after the win, this meeting was the childhood rivals’ first since 2009 Tokyo, which Sharapova won due to Jankovic’s retirement.
The Serb, who fought back to take the first set after being 1-4 down, hit just 11 winners to 49 unforced errors. This was her second final of the year with the first at Monterrey.
To advance to the championship, Jankovic defeated World No. 11 Andrea Petkovic, who beat her twice this year at Stuttgart and Miami. Both matches were decided in three sets. This time around, however, Jankovic won 7-6(4), 6-1.
About the loss and her run her in Cincinnati, she said, "Gives me a lot of confidence because I've beaten a lot of good players here that are in-form. Today as well I could have won. It was few points here and there. It proves to myself that I'm right there."
Jankovic continued, "I was competing. I was playing. I was really grinding. You know, I cannot really ask for more. Unfortunately didn't go my way. You know, Maria, at the end, was a better player. Congratulations to her."
By Benjamin Snyder