MELBOURNE, Australia - Maria Sharapova won the Australian Open without losing a set, wrapping up her third Grand Slam title with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Ana Ivanovic.
After Ivanovic sprayed a forehand wide on match point, Sharapova dropped to her knees and appeared to be fighting back tears as she waved and blew kisses to the crowd.
Then the Russian star dropped her racket in her chair before heading to shake hands and exchange high-fives with her father and supporters.
She clasped her hands and swayed as she stood, waiting to receive the Daphne Akhurst Trophy, then told the Rod Laver Arena crowd that she'd received a text message from tennis great Billie Jean King telling her that 'Champions take chances and pressure is a privilege.'
"I took mine," said Sharapova, 20, back in a final at a major for the first time since her 6-1, 6-2 loss to Serena Williams last year at Melbourne Park.
Sharapova wished her mother, Yelena, a happy birthday and told her: "With this big fat check, I'm going to send you a bunch of roses."
Meanwhile, Roger Federer lost to Novak Djokovic, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (5), in the men's semifinals, leaving the top-ranked Swiss one match short of making an 11th consecutive Grand Slam final.
"Winning every other week, you know, lose a set and people say I'm playing bad," Federer said. "So it's my own mistake, I guess."
Djokovic will now play unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga tomorrow, setting up one unlikely title match.
Sharapova, seeded fifth, was aggressive from the start and, apart from one bad service game in the first set that allowed Ivanovic back to 4-4, controlled the important points against a Serbian player for the second consecutive match.
Sharapova beat No. 3 Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals after ending top-ranked Justine Henin's 32-match winning streak in the quarterfinals.
Ivanovic, also 20, is 0-2 in Grand Slam finals. She lost the French Open championship match to Henin last year.
Ivanovic, seeded fourth, saved two match points but sprayed a forehand wide to give Sharapova the title, to go with her wins at Wimbledon in 2004 and the 2006 U.S. Open.
On a hot, sunny day with temperatures reaching 93 degrees, people in the crowd were fanning themselves, and Sharapova retreated to the shade behind the baselines to gather herself between points.
It was Australia Day, so organizers put small national flags at each seat. But there were plenty of Serbian and Russian flags, too.
Most of the signs scattered around packed Rod Laver Arena were pretty clear, including one that said "Quiet please Maria," referring to Sharapova's high-pitched grunts that get louder and louder as pressure rises.
Sharapova dropped to her knees and appeared to be fighting back tears as she waved and blew kisses to the crowd. Then she dropped her racket in her chair before heading to shake hands and exchange high fives with her father and supporters.
Among the men, Rafael Nadal, the only player to beat Federer in the previous 10 majors, was thumped 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 by Tsonga.
Djokovic, seeded third, will be a big favorite after making the semifinals at four straight majors. Tsonga is in his fifth Grand Slam and beyond the fourth round for the first time.
Djokovic said he drew on his experience in his U.S. Open final loss to Federer, knowing the pressure was mounting on his rival.
"As one of the top players in the world, you always have a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure on your back," Djokovic said. "He's a special case because he's expected to win everywhere he goes on any surface." *