Sharapova completes Italian job in Rome
Originally published on: 07/09/11 13:11
Maria Sharapova made a statement of intent a week ahead of Roland Garros after securing the third – and most significant – clay court title of her career at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
The former Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon champion powered past Sam Stosur in straight sets to boost her hopes of completing a career Grand Slam in Paris.
Sharapova, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2007, once said that she felt “like a cow on ice” on the dirt, but the 24-year-old proved steady on her feet throughout the WTA Premier 5 event.
“I surely wasn’t the favourite going into a clay court event like this,” admitted the Russian, who bypassed Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki before bettering world No.7 Stosur in the final.
“To beat players who’ve had great results on clay means a lot to me,” she added. “I may not be the best mover or slider on clay, or the strongest player with the strongest legs, but there’s a lot more than that in tennis.”
Sharapova raced into a 4-0 advantage in the first set and maintained a lead throughout, pummeling 18 winners to secure her 23rd WTA title and her first since Strasbourg in May 2010.
“It means so much to me to add this title to the ones I already have,” added the 6ft2in right-hander. “Rome is such a special place and I’ve dreamed of holding up this trophy.”
Stosur, meanwhile, proved assured in defeating Francesca Schiavone and No.4 seed Li Na en route to the final, but never looked like claiming her third WTA title.
“It wasn’t the final I wanted, but it’s been a great week and each week I played in Europe I got a bit better,” said the Australian. “It’s what you want heading into a Grand Slam.”