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Sharapova chases Slam No.4

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Originally published on: 26/01/12 09:27

Maria Sharapova was only 20 when she won the title here in 2008 and if she wins again on Saturday, she will also reclaim the No.1 spot she has not held since June 2007.

It took the Russian two hours and 12 minutes to reap her revenge on Petra Kvitova, who defeated her in the 2011 Wimbledon final, and Sharapova admitted she is delighted to be competing for the biggest prizes in tennis again.

“It means so much to be back in a Grand Slam final, a stage I have been to before few years ago here,” she said. “It’s nice to get that far again after losing quite early in the last couple of years. It means a lot to me. I played someone that’s just had really great results and has beaten me the last couple of times. I just really wanted it today.”

Sharapova has been in fine form ahead of the final, having conceded only 21 games going into her clash with Kvitova. That total has now increased to 33, one more than her opponent in the final, Victoria Azarenka.

She had only dropped one set prior to this match, that was to Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round and as this is her first event in 2012 having missed Brisbane because of an ankle injury, she remains undefeated this season.

With a reputation for being one of the steeliest players in the women’s game, the fact the 24 year old wants to win so much is going to make her a formidable opponent for Azarenka, who is playing in her first Grand Slam final. But Sharapova is not underestimating her opponent.

“Even though Victoria hasn’t really been in that stage of a Grand Slam before, she’s certainly won big titles and she has the experience,” said Sharapova. “This is a stage she’s wanted to be at for a long time, so I do expect her to play really good tennis.”

Sharpova knows she has to play the kind of aggressive tennis that she is known for.

“If I’m playing well, that’s usually kind of how my game is,” she said, adding: “If I’m playing defensive or on the defense, then my chances are pretty bad.”

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