Maria Sharapova beats Petra Kvitova to win China Open crown
Russia's Maria Sharapova won the China Open with a thrilling 6-4 2-6 6-3 victory over third seed Petra Kvitova in the final in Beijing.
Sharapova, who will move up to number two in the world, was broken in the opening game but took the first set in as Kvitova made 17 unforced errors.
The left-handed Kvitova, 24, won four games in a row to force a decider.
But Sharapova, 27, took the first three games of the final set and went on to win in two hours and 28 minutes.
|Maria Sharapova's other titles in 2014|
|French Open (June), Madrid Open (May), Stuttgart Grand Prix (April)|
It was Sharapova's fifth successive victory over Kvitova, who would have risen to world number two had she taken the title, following her triumph in the inaugural Wuhan Open last week.
Sharapova had a match point on the Kvitova serve in the deciding set, but the Czech Republic player, who won her second Wimbledon title this year, held to force the Russian to serve for the match.
Unlike in her semi-final with Ana Ivanovic, when her final service game contained six deuces, Sharapova won it to love to record the 33rd title of her career.
"It was a bit of an up-and-down match - maybe not the best out of the tournament," said Sharapova. "But it's never easy playing against Petra. You don't always quite get a good rhythm.
"She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her play that way. But I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win," she added.
"I was tired, but it was a final, and every time I'm playing a final, I'm giving everything I have inside," said Kvitova.
"What I did today was a great battle. It was small things and small points that make the difference in the end.
"I had some chances but Maria just didn't let them go. She just played really well."