Player of the week: Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova captured the Premier-level Toray Pan Pacific Open last week, her 20th career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title and her first since returning to the Tour in May after being sidelined with a right shoulder injury for nine months.

Sharapova was pushed to the limit in her first round match by Francesca Schiavone, fighting from 64 42 down to win in three sets. In the 2nd she sweeped 12th seed Samantha Stosur by a clear 6/0 6/1, but in the 3rd round she had to come back again from a set down to overcome Alisa Kleybanova. The quarters were again easy for Maria as she defeated Iveta Benesova in straight sets, but she found a much tough opponent in the semis, and the match against 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska was decided in the third set. This set up an interesting final between two former #1s, Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic. Despite losing the first two games, Sharapova found her range to win five games in a row to lead 5-2 when Jankovic had to retire due to a right wrist injury.

After so long absence and limited performance due to the shoulder injury, it's great news that Maria Sharapova is back on the winning track. With Clijsters and Henin coming back to the Tour, the full recovery of Sharapova promises a really interesting fight for the Grand Slam titles.

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