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Sharapova wins first U S Open title

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Sep 10 (Reuters) Russia's Maria Sharapova used a big serve and powerful forehand to win the U S Open women's singles title by beating second seed Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-4 6-4.

Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, ended the 90-minute match when the Belgian dumped a forehand into the net. The tall 19-year-old first bent down to the court with her hands covering her face before springing up and jumping for joy.

The third seed, playing in her first grand slam final since her Wimbledon triumph, scored the decisive break in the seventh game of the second set after two groundstroke errors by Henin-Hardenne, who had won four of five previous matches against the Russian.

Sharapova, playing her first U.S. Open final, was dominant from the service line.

She did not face a single break point after her opening service game in beating 24-year-old Henin-Hardenne yesterday, who reached all four 2006 grand slam finals but registered victory in only the French Open.

The second set stayed on serve until Sharapova registered the only break of the set, taking a 4-3 lead after two faulty forehands from Henin-Hardenne.

In the first set, Sharapova exchanged early breaks with Henin-Hardenne before pulling clear with a break in the ninth game, taking advantage of three groundstroke errors in seizing a 5-4 lead.

Sharapova then served out for the first set, spinning a service winner at Henin-Hardenne to hold at 30.

Henin-Hardenne, who saved two break points in the opening game, drew first blood, breaking the hard-serving Sharapova in her first service game with two sizzling forehand winners from the third deuce to take a 2-0 lead.

The Russian, however, broke right back, reaching break point with a perfectly played half volley and bringing the set back on serve when the Belgian knocked a forehand too wide.


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