Lawn Tennis
Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic Take Australian Open
By Anton Lagani, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Friday, February 1, 2008 2:31pm CST USA
Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic Take Australian Open Titles
Photos by Romeo Gacad/William West/AFP
Melbourne--( At the Australian Open Maria Sharapova of Russia claimed her third grand slam title while Novak Djokovic of Serbia won his first grand slam as they took singles victories respectively in the women's and men's championship finals.

Sharapova showcased a much improved serve and laserlike groundstrokes to defeat Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-3. Djokovic topped off a spectacular two weeks by defeating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(7-2).

Sharapova's serve had been a weakness for her at last year's US Open where her second serve in particular was rutinely attacked. In Melbourne however, a change in service motion sparked a faster and more consistent delivery.

In round two, Sharapova defeated former world number one Lindsay Davenport of America 6-1, 6-3 hitting with precise and powerful groundstrokes and serves. In the quarterfinals, world number one Justine Henin of Belgium was handed a rare 6-0 set loss as she was defeated by Sharapova 6-4, 6-0 in another powerful Sharapova display.

We had not seen Sharapova's groundstrokes hit with such extreme angles and power since Wimbledon 2004.

Against Ivanovic in the final, Sharapova raced to 4-3 leads in both sets before closing them out with overwhelmingly forceful groundstrokes and serves.

After defeating local favorite Australian Lleyton Hewtitt in the fourth round and world number one Roger Federer of Switzerland in the semifinals, Djokovic met Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the finals; dropping the first set after powerful athletic play from Tsonga including a forehand topspin lob winner on set point.

Novak's experience proved key in the remainder of the match as Tsonga's errors accumulated as his winner count diminished. After six errors from Tsonga in the fourth set tiebreaker including a doublefault and a forehand down the line wide on matchpoint, Djokovic finished the close encounter with 46 winners to 35 unforced errors while Tsonga finished with 44 winners to 41 unforced errors.

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