Azarenka rolls to Indian Wells title
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) -- Victoria Azarenka routed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-3 to win the BNP Paribas Open title on Sunday in the WTA Tour's first final between the No. 1 and No. 2 players since 2008.
Azarenka broke Sharapova six times in improving her record to 23-0 this year, the best start to a season since Martina Hingis went 37-0 to open 1997. The top-ranked Belarusian earned $1 million for her Tour-leading fourth title of the year.
It was a rematch of the Australian Open final, which Azarenka won 6-3, 6-0 in January to keep Sharapova from regaining the No. 1 ranking. This time, Sharapova was error-prone during the 1 1/2-hour match on an unusually cold, windy day in the desert. The second-ranked Russian kept hitting close to the lines and missing.
No. 3 Roger Federer was set to play American John Isner in the men's final later.
Azarenka broke Sharapova in the final game, when the Russian double-faulted then shanked a forehand to set up Azarenka's first match point. She won after forcing Sharapova into a desperation defensive shot that sailed beyond the baseline. Azarenka dropped her racket, pumped her right arm and broke into a brief dance while smiling broadly.
It was yet another dominant performance by Azarenka, who improved to 5-3 against Sharapova, including 4-0 in finals. Sharapova hasn't beaten Azarenka in a completed match since 2009; she won last year in Rome when Azarenka retired in the second set with a right elbow injury.
Sharapova twice had aces to hold serve in the first set, but her groundstrokes were inconsistent. Azarenka led 4-1 in the second set when Sharapova won two straight games to get to 4-3, capped by a swinging forehand volley winner. But Sharapova won just two points in the final two games to fall to 13-3 on the year.