Maria Sharapova came from behind in each set to Aryna Sabalenka, 7-5, 7-6 (8), on Sunday to win the Tianjin Open, her first WTA title in more than two years.
Sharapova, a former No. 1 and a five-time Grand Slam champion, returned to the tour in April after a 15-month doping ban. She entered the tournament ranked 86th in the world.
“It is a special title, a special victory,” Sharapova told reporters after the match.
She started the stronger, breaking Sabalenka in her opening service game, but struggled on serve and soon found herself trailing by 4-1 in the first set.
Sharapova managed to hold serve for the first time in the match at 4-2 and clung on grimly in the face of some hard hitting by Sabalenka, a 19-year-old Belarusian ranked 102nd, before converting her fourth break point of the next game to get back on serve at 4-3.
Her nerves settled, Sharapova began to hit her stride, breaking Sabalenka again to go up by 6-5 before closing out the set.
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