Sharapova wins 1st tourney since layoff
TOKYO -- Maria Sharapova won her first tournament since returning from a 10-month injury layoff when Jelena Jankovic retired because of an arm injury in the first set of the Toray Pan Pacific final Saturday.
Sharapova was up 5-2 at Ariake Colosseum when the seventh-seeded Serb took a timeout to have her right arm examined by the trainer. Jankovic returned to the court and lost the first two points of the eighth game before retiring.
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"It's disappointing," said Sharapova, who had arthroscopic surgery to repair a rotator cuff in her right shoulder nearly a year ago. "It's toward the end of the year and there are a lot of injuries so I wish Jelena a speedy recovery."
It was Sharapova's first win since Amelia Island in April 2008.
Sharapova won her first tournament as a professional at the Japan Open in 2003 and won this tournament in 2005, defeating Lindsay Davenport in the final.
"This tournament was a really good challenge for me," Sharapova said. "Having to play six matches in six days, I knew it was going to be a good test of what I can do."
Jankovic got off to a strong start, breaking Sharapova's serve in the first game and taking a 2-0 lead. But Sharapova fought back and took control of the first set when she broke Jankovic to go up 4-2.
"When you get an injury, you don't know if you can play or not," Jankovic said. "My wrist and whole arm is inflamed and swollen and I don't know when I will recover."
Sharapova also reached the final in Toronto in August, losing to Elena Dementieva.
"It's exciting," Sharapova said. "We put in so much work and to be able to go out and compete in front of thousands of fans is great. You realize what a gift it is to hit a tennis ball."
Ai Sugiyama's 17-year career on the women's circuit ended with a loss in the doubles final.
The last of Sugiyama's 62 consecutive Grand Slam appearances ended in a first-round loss at the U.S. Open last month.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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