Azarenka defeats Sharapova for Indian Wells title

World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka routed World No. 2 Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-3 to take the ATP/WTA Indian Wells women's title on Sunday and stretch her 2012 win streak to 23 matches.

Updated: March 19, 2012 08:25 IST
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Indian Wells: World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka routed World No. 2 Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-3 to take the ATP/WTA Indian Wells women's title on Sunday and stretch her 2012 win streak to 23 matches.

Azarenka has won every match she has played this year, the best start to a season since Martina Hingis won 37 in a row in 1997.

"I was really nervous before the final," Azarenka said. "It is important for me to try and put as much pressure on her and not let her into the match.

"I really had to stay on my feet and keep playing my game.

"It was little hard with the wind but I am happy I went through with this determination."

Azarenka's victory comes just six weeks after she beat Sharapova in straight sets in the Australian Open final to win her first Grand Slam title.

The 22-year-old from Belarus hit one ace, had two double faults and won 71 percent of her first serve points in collecting her fourth title of 2012 and a $1 million winner's check.

Azarenka clinched the crown on her first match point when Sharapova made a stab at a shot but her lob sailed long, ending the 86-minute match.

Earlier in the draw at Indian Wells, she passed Serena Williams's 2003 win streak of 21 matches and now has her sights set on catching Hingis.

"I never dreamed about that. It is amazing," she said of the win streak. "It is a position I worked really hard to be in.

"I am so glad I am able to be consistent, disciplined and professional."

Azarenka, one of the hardest hitting players on tour, was competing in her sixth consecutive final.

It is the first time in four years that the world number one and number two met in the final of a WTA Tour event.

This was her first title in the California desert and follows last year's disappointment, where she was forced to retire from her quarter-final match against Caroline Wozniacki with an injury. Wozniacki went on to win the title.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova has now failed to take a set off Azarenka in the five times she has lost to her, dating to Moscow in 2007. Sharapova has beaten Azarenka three times, including twice on hardcourts.

Sharapova finished with two aces, three double faults and won just 46 percent of her first-serve points.

"I feel like I just made too many unforced errors at the wrong time and wasn't solid enough," Sharapova said.

"We're going to play against each other a few more times, so I'll have time to change that."

Azarenka came dressed for the cold with temperatures hovering around 13 degrees Celsius (56F). She was wearing black spandex leggings under white shorts with a blue long-sleeve shirt and a lime-green headband while Sharapova wore a white long-sleeve top and a blue skirt.

Azarenka broke Sharapova's serve twice in the first set and four times in the second.

"I was just trying to do my best because I know Maria is fighting," Azarenka said. "I always try to stay focused and apply as much pressure as I can."

Azarenka broke Sharapova in the opening game of the match then held serve for a 2-0 lead and set the tone in the cool and windy conditions.

Both players struggled to hold serve in the second set as they traded breaks back and forth. Sharapova finally held her serve for the first time in the second set in the seventh game with a forehand winner to cut Azarenka's lead to 4-3.

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  • Victoria Azarenka
  • Tennis
  • Maria Sharapova

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