Red-hot 19-year old Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova (Мария Юрьевна Шарапова) earned her fourth title of the year at Zurich today, beating Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. This win was Sharapova's 14th career title. According to ESPN:
Sharapova, who won her fourth title this season, still has a chance to finish the year as the top-ranked player. She'd need to win next week in Linz, Austria, and at the season-ending Women's Tennis Association Championships in Madrid.The lovely and talented Sharapova has won three of the WTA Tour's top 10 events, including winning the 2004 Wimbledon Championship, beating Serena Williams of the USA. She was the third-youngest Wimbledon women's champion in that tournaments history.
Amelie Mauresmo, who withdrew from the Zurich Open with a shoulder injury, and second-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne, who hasn't played since mid-September because of a knee problem, still lead the U.S. Open champion in the rankings.
Mauresmo leads Sharapova by 630 points, but many of the Frenchwomen's points will expire before this season ends. Henin-Hardenne would have to fail to reach the WTA final for Sharapova to finish on top.
Neither Henin-Hardenne nor Mauresmo are expected to play before Madrid.
"Becoming No. 1 is a huge achievement, but I don't personally think ending the season as No. 1 is a huge deal," said Sharapova, who was top-ranked in August 2005. "I honestly can't remember who finished last year No. 1. You remember who won the Grand Slams and who has been No. 1, not who finished the year No. 1."
Sharapova, who withdrew from the recent Kremlin Cup with a foot injury, said she was playing through pain in Zurich. She picked up her 14th career title, her other wins this season coming at the U.S. Open, in San Diego and Indian Wells, Calif.
Hantuchova had to save three break points on her first serve before Sharapova swept the next six games.
She also has the distinction of being Maxim Magazine's Hottest Female Athlete of the Year for the past four years.