INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Maria Sharapova defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2 to win her first title of the year at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday in a final between two former top-ranked players.
Sharapova dictated from the opening game, when she broke Wozniacki at love with groundstrokes that had the Dane running from side to side. Sharapova faced just two break points on her serve in the nearly 1½-hour match.
"I always felt like I was always a foot ahead, especially with the breaks," she said. "I was able to serve well today, and that helped me."
It was Sharapova's second career title at Indian Wells, where she first won in 2006. Wozniacki won here in 2011. The women met in a final for the first time; their six other matches came in earlier rounds.
"I don't think I have gray hairs yet, but as the years go by, I'm still very lucky that I'm here and that I'm still doing it and that I still love it and have the passion to do it," Sharapova said.
The Russian is projected to rise one spot in the WTA Tour rankings to No. 2 on Monday, dropping Victoria Azarenka to third. Wozniacki will move up one spot to No. 9.
The victory, worth $1 million, gave Sharapova at least one title for 11 straight years dating to 2003.
Sharapova led 2-1 when Wozniacki brought her coach-dad Piotr out during a break. But she couldn't get untracked, and was broken again in the seventh game. Sharapova fought off two break points to take the first set in 38 minutes.
"She was putting pressure on me from the start. She was serving very well," Wozniacki said. "I felt like everything that she wanted to do today was going in. She was making very few errors, and if she did, then it was really at the times where it didn't really matter."
Sharapova broke to open the second set when Wozniacki double-faulted the game away. She converted her fourth break point on Wozniacki's backhand error to take a 5-3 lead. Sharapova was aggressive in her approach, using her forehand to push Wozniacki around and then coming in on short balls to easily put them away.
"I thought I was being aggressive, but I was doing the right things and being patient enough and looking for the right shot when I wanted to move in a little bit," Sharapova said.
"She's someone that if she has time she can make you hit so many balls, and that's not really the way that I want to be and not the way I want to control the points. It was really important to try to take away that time that she likes to have."
Sharapova went for it on her serves, too, winning 19 of 22 points on her first serve. Even when she sometimes missed going down the T, she kept changing up her placement.
Wozniacki struggled with Sharapova's serve, winning just 3 of 22 points on the Russian's first serve.
"I found it a little bit difficult because her first, second serve were pretty much the same speed. It was hard, and she stepped into the returns," Wozniacki said. "Even when I felt like she was out there running, she still came down with some shots that were going very close to the lines. She forced me to do a few errors that I usually wouldn't do."