April 13th, 2008
Amelia Island, Florida
It took Sharapova 18 career titles before she could raise up her first championship trophy on clay, her 19th career title and 3rd of 2008. The Russian was the highest profile star at Amelia Island this week, with some competition coming from players such as Lindsay Davenportand Anna Chakvetadze. However, Sharapova struggled throughout the tournament and was often taken to the limit even before reaching the Finals.
Sharapova was stretched to three sets in both her 3rd Round and her Quarter-Finals victories over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Alona Bondarenko respectively. Lindsday Davenport pulled out of her Semi-Finals match with Sharapova before it even began citing a viral illness that put her on the shelf. Sharapova faced off little known, but rising star Dominika Cibulkova who defeated Alize Cornet in the Semis.
It wasn't the easy match Sharapova may have wanted, but all was going her way as she was in the lead, 5-4 in the opening set. Then she was broken and down 6-5. This is where Sharapova kicked into a second gear and would move through a tough Tiebreak to win the set 7-6(7). The 2nd Set was more to Sharapova's liking as she finally got comfortable on the green clay and won 6-3. It was Sharapova's first clay title, although it is Green Clay, she can take confidence from this victory next week as she tries to win at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston. The field there includes big names such as Jelena Jankovic and Serena Williams, the Finalists from Miami last week.