Sharapova eyes up Olympics
Originally published on: 17/02/12 11:09
She has come off second best in two of the last three Grand Slam finals but Maria Sharapova has put the Olympics amongst her top priorities for the 2012 season.
The three-time Grand Slam champion, who finished a runner-up to Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon last year and to Victoria Azarenka in Melbourne last month, has never featured at the Olympics.
She missed Beijing in 2008 as a result of her former shoulder troubles and is relishing the chance to compete in London, now that she is fit and healthy.
“Representing my country there will be a huge honour for me,” said the Russian, a dab hand on grass having won her first Grand Slam title on the surface at the age of 17.
“I’m really looking forward to the grass season,” she continued. “Wimbledon is a big goal every single year. And obviously, two weeks later coming into the Olympics, which I’ve never been a part of in my career — something that I’ve wanted to do and be a part of since I was a young kid. In Russia, as an athlete, that was the biggest dream, the biggest goal.”
Sharapova produced a strong showing in Melbourne last month, losing just a single set ahead of the semi-finals, where she ousted the WTA’s form player, Petra Kvitova, to reach her sixth Grand Slam final.
Though handily beaten 6-3 6-0 by Azarenka, the world No.3 hopes she can kick on from her return to form at Melbourne Park after an injury setback towards the end of last year, having injured her left ankle in Tokyo before withdrawing from the China Open and retiring after two losses at the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
“Getting to the final is a step forward toward where I want to get,” Sharapova said. “Obviously, you want to be the one holding the trophy, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
“A little luck at times and eventually belief, and it happens. It doesn’t come at once, it takes a lot of time and development. As far as this year, I still have many opportunities to hopefully achieve that.”
Sharapova is in Paris this week, competing at the Open GDF Suez for the first time. She faces either Chanelle Scheepers or Polona Hercog in her opener after being handed a first round bye.