BRISBANE, Australia — Maria Sharapova claimed her 34th career title with a victory at the Brisbane International on Saturday, hours after Roger Federer moved within one win of a triple-zero milestone.
Top-seeded Sharapova had a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 win over Ana Ivanovic in the women’s final, letting a 4-1 lead and two set points slip in the first before coming back with early breaks in the second and third sets to secure the title.
It was an ideal warm-up for the first major of the season, and gave Sharapova the chance to overhaul Serena Williams for top spot in the rankings depending on results at the Australian Open, starting Jan. 19.
“I played four good matches against very different types of opponents. Couldn’t have asked for better preparation,” Sharapova said, playing down the importance of the rankings. “Now that I won a tournament, maybe I have a better chance of going higher in the rankings. Right now I am No. 2; the next spot is 1.”
Federer has a chance to go into the Australian Open with 1,000 career match wins to his credit after beating fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion came into the 2015 season with 996 wins and has had three more on the way to Sunday’s final, where he’ll meet third-seeded Milos Raonic. The 33-year-old Federer has a 7-1 win-loss record against the 24-year-old Canadian, who served 34 aces to grind out a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) win over second-seeded Kei Nishikori in the other semifinal.
“It’s a goal for the season, so I still have time to get to a thousand,” Federer said, smiling, in a post-match interview. “I mean, it’s a really big number, no doubt about it. Love to get it tomorrow. If not tomorrow, I hope it happens at the Australian Open. It would definitely be an incredible milestone to reach.”
Only retired greats Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071) have won more than 1,000 matches.
“They were very consistent for a long time, very match tough, and definitely players and athletes you could look up to,” Federer said. “It would mean a lot to get to a thousand, but they’re still ahead of me.”
Venus Williams won her first title of the year when she recovered from a set and a break down for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over top-seeded Carolina Wozniacki in the final of the ASB Classic at Auckland, New Zealand.
Her sister, Serena Williams, missed a chance to win a third Hopman Cup title when she and U.S. teammate John Isner lost 2-1 to Poland in the final at Perth.
The No. 1-ranked Williams finished off a rusty week with losses in the singles and the mixed doubles on Saturday night.
Ferrer beats Berdych FOR TITLE: In Doha, Qatar, David Ferrer won his 22nd career ATP title when he defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5 in the Qatar Open final on Saturday.
Ferrer made it six consecutive years he has won at least one title.
“The performance, it was very good,” Ferrer said. “I’m happy, because it never is easy to begin the season winning one tournament.”
The Spaniard improved his record to 8-5 against Berdych, whose finals record slumped to 10-15.
The fourth-seeded Ferrer began the final by breaking the third-seeded Berdych in the first game, and raced to 4-1.
Berdych hadn’t dropped his serve in 34 service games through the semifinals, but surrendered four of eight service break opportunities to Ferrer.
In the second set, Berdych had three set points on Ferrer’s serve in the 10th game, but the Spaniard managed to hold for 5-5.
Wawrinka, Bedene to meet in final: In Chennai, India, Stan Wawrinka will defend his Chennai Open title in the final against Slovenian qualifier Aljaz Bedene.
Wawrinka, also preparing for his defense of the Australian Open title, beat fourth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 6-3, while Bedene accounted for a third seed this week when he knocked out third-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8) in the semifinals on Saturday.
Looking for his third title here, Wawrinka had to slug it out with Goffin in the first set, then cruised after breaking him in the second game of the second.