Maria in reflective mood ahead of Rome
Originally published on: 14/05/12 00:00
The Russian’s victory in Rome a year ago was her first for 12 months – and she has barely looked back since.
After beating Sam Stosur in the Rome final, having already knocked out Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki, Sharapova went on to reach the semi-finals of the French Open and the final at Wimbledon before winning the title in Cincinnati. This year Sharapova has reached finals in Melbourne, Indian Wells and Miami, won the clay-court title in Stuttgart and returned to No.2 in the world rankings.
“It was a really great memory,” Sharapova said at the Foro Italico as she looked back on her Rome experience of 12 months ago. “This time last year was when I really started playing well, at a higher level. It was also when I adjusted to my new racket and my new coach. Everything started coming together.
“It took a while for those adjustments to kick in and for me to feel a bit more comfortable. I certainly found my ground and it was certainly a great clay-court event for me to win. It was great for my confidence. I beat some really good clay-court players and played consistently well at a high level, which was important.”
Sharapova said she had been pleasantly surprised by her form last month in Stuttgart, where she beat Azarenka, Stosur and Petra Kvitova. “It was my first tournament of the year on clay,” she said.
“It takes me few matches to get the timing. No matter how much you practise it’s always good to come into a tournament feeling like you’ve played a few matches. But I went there and movement-wise felt really good from the beginning of the event, which I think I showed throughout the tournament. I have one more before the French so it’s been good so far.”