News from 23 week 2012 : 3 June 2012 to 9 June 2012

PARIS —

The picture she posed for at the beginning foreshadowed a mismatch in the making: the 188-centimetre Maria Sharapova standing at the net, towering over an opponent 25 centimetres smaller than her.

The pictures snapped at the end told a different story: Sharapova, down on her knees after a tougher-than-expected win, head buried in her hands, celebrating after completing a comeback three years in the making and cementing her name among the greatest in tennis.

The Russian star won the French Open on Saturday, defeating her tiny Italian opponent, Sara Errani, 6-3, 6-2 in the final at Roland Garros to complete the career Grand Slam.

Sharapova won the trophy at Roland Garros about three years after dropping as low as 126th in the rankings after shoulder surgery that threatened her career. She rededicated herself to the game and made a special effort to improve on red clay, the surface on which she moved to 16-0 this year.

She did it knowing it wasn’t really necessary. She’s a millionaire many times over, her endorsement cachet full — as comfortable on the red carpet as she now is on the red clay.

“I’ve had so many outs and I could’ve said I don’t need this,” she said. “I could’ve said, ‘I’ve got the money, I’ve got the fame, I’ve got the career victories and Grand Slams.’ But when your love for the game is bigger than those things, that’s when you continue to get up.”

She added this year’s French Open title to championships at Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 to become only the 10th woman to win all four major tournaments, joining players such as Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King.


PARIS —

Here comes the French Open final everyone expected and, except for other players, wanted:

No. 1 Novak Djokovic, one victory from becoming the first man in 43 years to win four consecutive major championships, against No. 2 Rafael Nadal, one victory from becoming the only man to win seven titles at Roland Garros.

How’s that for high stakes?

You can watch the match live on CTV2, Sunday at 9am et/6am pt.

Djokovic is undefeated in his past 27 Grand Slam matches, which includes beating Nadal in the finals at Wimbledon in July, the U.S. Open in September, and the Australian Open in January. Nadal has won 51 of 52 career matches at the French Open; only he and Bjorn Borg have won the clay-court tournament six times.

Never before have the same two men met in four Grand Slam finals in a row, so it’s apt that no matter who wins Sunday, his achievement will be monumental.

“I have this golden opportunity to make history. This motivates me. It really inspires me. I’m really grateful to be in this position, obviously,” said the 25-year-old Djokovic, who owns five Grand Slam titles to Nadal’s 10. “And look, I’ll try to prepare for that match and get my hands on that trophy, if I can.”

Won’t be easy, that’s for sure.


PARIS —

Daniel Nestor wasn’t about to lose his poise after collecting his third straight French Open doubles title at the expense of his biggest rivals.

Nestor and partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus repeated as French Open doubles champions with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan on Saturday.

“You don’t want to take your clothes off and start dancing around the court when you win,” said Nestor. “We have a lot of respect for the opposition today.”

The top-seeded Nestor team will keep the ATP No.1 ranking as a result of the victory — the third in a row for the 39-year-old from Toronto after winning the 2010 trophy with former partner Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia.

Nestor and Mirnyi took over the points lead on May 7, ending the Bryans’ 90-week reign as the top team.

Nestor, who came to Paris with a record 77 doubles titles, claimed his eighth Grand Slam title with the solid Paris victory.

“Unbelievable, it’s a great feeling,” said the Canadian. “It was not the best match by some of us on the court today, including myself and definitely them.


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