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Sharapova growing fond of the dirt

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Originally published on: 04/04/12 11:19

Maria Sharapova once said she felt like “a cow on ice” when she played on clay, but the 24-year-old Russian is a much improved performer on the surface and is looking forward to the next three months.
 
“I feel like I’ve improved with every year that I have been playing on [clay] and I enjoy it,” she said. “I feel like you learn so much about the construction of the points and the games. It’s such a cat-and-mouse game. I didn’t necessarily like that many years back, but I feel like I’m much better at it and I have improved – and physically as well.”
 
Sharapova has actually reached the quarter-finals of the French Open five times, compared with four times at Wimbledon and only twice at the US Open. Last year she made the semi-finals at Roland Garros before losing to Li Na, who went on to win the title. Her performances in Paris followed a fine run in Rome, where she won the title after beating three top 10 players in Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Stosur.
 
This year Sharapova has enjoyed her best start to a season since 2008, when she won her last Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. She has reached three finals, through she has yet to win a title, having lost to Azarenka in Melbourne and Indian Wells and to Agnieszka Radwanska in Miami. She reached back-to-back finals in Indian Wells and Miami for the first time for six years.
 
The world No.2 will begin her clay-court season in Stuttgart at the end of this month. “I’m looking forward to taking a little break now and then getting on the clay and starting the practice,” she said.

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