STUTTGART (AFP) - Maria Sharapova claimed a hat-trick of Stuttgart titles on Sunday after coming from behind to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 over Ana Ivanovic.
Having won the 2012 and 2013 titles, the 27-year-old Russian was made to work hard for her 13th consecutive win on Stuttgart's clay-courts for the 30th final win of her career before over-powering Ivanovic in just over two hours.
"That was a tough bit of work," said Sharapova, who has won all four Grand Slam titles. "I have always believed in my chances and the fighting spirit is something that comes from within me."
This was the first time Sharapova has claimed a third title at an individual tournament and comes on the back of last year's shoulder injury. It is also the Russian's first clay-court tournament in her build-up to the French Open, having lost to Serena Williams in last year's final.
"We have seen what a great player Maria is," admitted Ivanovic.
Having been taken to three sets by the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova in her first-round match, Sharapova had swept into the final with straight-set wins over compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, top-seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, then Italian clay-court specialist Sara Errani in the semi-finals.
Ivanovic had been chasing her first win over the Russian since the 2007 French Open semi-final, when Ivanovic went onto lose to Justine Henin in the final, but the Serbian ran out of steam and sixth seed Sharapova showed her experience to win 11 of the last 13 games.