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High five for Sharapova: The Russian's successful returns

Last updated on: April 30, 2013 09:10 IST

Stuttgart was Sharapova's 29th career title


Bikash Mohapatra

Maria Sharapova's tiumph in Stuttgart on Sunday marked only the fifth instance in a decade-long career that she successfully defended a title. takes a look at the instances.

Maria Sharapova's 6-4, 6-3 win over Li Na on Sunday not only helped successfully defended her Stuttgart Grand Prix title but also kicked off her clay-court season in style.

It was the Russian's 29th career title, in her 49th final appearance, and marked only the fifth instance she defended a title in her decade-long career.

The 26-year-old had bested Victoria Azarenka in straight sets in the final last year.

Click NEXT for a look at the other instances when Sharapova won a tournament for two successive years.

Image: Russia's top seed and holder Maria Sharapova celebrates after she won a Porsche 911 4S in the final of the Stuttgart Grand Prix against China's Li Na
Photographs: REUTERS/Michael Dalder


Japan Open marked the first such instance

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Maria Sharapova won her first ever title at the Japan Open in 2003, besting Hungarian Aniko Kapros 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5).

A year later, the Russian was back to winning ways in Tokyo, thrashing American Mashona Washington 6-0, 6-1 to complete a successful defense of her title.

In between, she had beaten Serena Williams for the Wimbledon title.

Image: Maria Sharapova holds the trophy aloft after winning the final against Mashona Washington at the Japan Open in 2004
Photographs: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

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Birmingham marked the second such instance

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The DFS Classic in Birmingham, a grass court event and a curtain raiser for Wimbledon, is a tournament where Sharapova has traditionally done well.

The Russian's first title came in 2004, at the expense of Frenchwoman Tatiana Golovin (4-6, 6-2, 6-1).

A year later, she was back in England's second largest city, edging Serbian Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to retain her title.

Sharapova was also a beaten finalist in Birmingham in both 2007 and 2010.

Image: Maria Sharapova lifts the DFS Clasic Trophy after her final against Jelena Jankovic in 2005
Photographs: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

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Sharapova won twice over in Carlsbad

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The Acura Classic in Carlsbad, California, happened to be a Tier I tournament (now Premier Mandatory) between 2004 and 2007.

Sharapova won it twice in the period.

The Russian upset Belgian Kim Clijsters 7-5, 7-5 in the final in 2006. She proceeded to win her maiden US Open title.

A year later she returned to make a successful defence, edging Swiss Patty Scnyder 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.

Image: Maria Sharapova holds her trophy after defeating Patty Schnyder in the final of the Acura Classic at Carlsbad in 2007
Photographs: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

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The Russian has enjoyed her Roman holiday

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The Internazionali d'Italia is a Premier 5 event on the women's tour and Sharapova is the two-time defending champion.

The Russian first won in 2012, besting Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-4 in the final. The Australian proceeded to make the final of the French Open that year.

A year later, Sharapova returned to Rome, playing like a native to reclaim her trophy. Li Na offered stiff resistance but was eventually edged 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

With a good start to the clay season, and a clay court winning streak that now spans 16 matches in a row, Sharapova is a favourite heading into the year's second major, at Roland Garros.

Will Sharapova successfully defend her French Open title?

Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates with the trophy after defeating Na Li of China in the final of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2012 in Rome
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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