Maria Sharapova has had plenty of good days over her career, but her latest win is a good sign for the future.
The 25-year-old star dominated the WTA BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. She not only won all six of her matches in straight sets, but she beat some solid competition on the way to a title.
In the quarterfinals, Sharapova won a tough match over sixth-seeded Sara Errani. While she was fortunate to avoid Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka in the final two rounds, her actual opponents were still tough to beat. Maria Kirilenko has already won a tournament this year, and Caroline Wozniacki is one of the best young players in the world.
Finishing tournaments strong has been a problem for Sharapova in recent years. While she earned a career Grand Slam with a win at the French Open last season, it was her first big win in four years.
This seemed impossible for one of the best up-and-coming players as of a few years ago. The Russian won the Australian Open in 2008 to continue a run that featured eight tournament wins in 2007. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury and ensuing rehab slowed her success rate.
From 2009-12, Sharapova only won eight tournaments combined. However, it finally seems like she is back to original form.
At Indian Wells, the No. 3 player in the world showed a great deal of overall skill, and more importantly, consistency. She served incredibly well, and in the finals, she barely allowed Wozniacki an opportunity to break.
Sharapova tends to struggle when she cannot get her first serve in play, but that was not a problem throughout the tournament. This helped keep her out of trouble, with only Errani even forcing a tiebreak.
Additionally, the early success allowed her to play with a lot more confidence. The talented player often looks timid on the court when facing Azarenka or Serena Williams. When facing weaker competition, she comes out stronger and the play reflects that.
After winning this prestigious tournament, the confidence will hopefully carry over into the bigger events, like the upcoming French Open.
Based on her recent play, she should have one of her better performances of her career at Roland Garros.