Sharapova makes early start count
Originally published on: 01/05/12 00:00
The 25-year-old Russian usually plays a maximum of two events in Europe in the build-up to Roland Garros, but she played in Stuttgart last week, winning the title on her debut, and is now heading for Madrid and Rome en route to Paris.
“I came to Europe this year a bit earlier than I usually do,” Sharapova said. “I added [Stuttgart] to my schedule and was going to use it as a warm-up tournament for the clay-court season, but maybe I should start doing it every year since it's obviously working for me.”
In 2010 and 2011 Sharapova played two European tournaments – the first of them at Madrid on both occasions – before competing at the French Open. For three years before that she played only one.
In the past the Russian has said that she struggles on clay, but she has reached more quarter-finals (five) at the French Open than she has at Wimbledon (four) and at the US Open (two). She has also reached five Australian Open quarter-finals.
Three of the last four titles Sharapova has won, moreover, have been on clay – Strasbourg in 2010, Rome last year and now Stuttgart, where she beat three of the world’s top five players in Sam Stosur, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka. Stuttgart was also the first tournament Sharapova had played in Germany for seven years.
Her Stuttgart triumph – the 25th singles title of her career – means that Sharapova has now won at least one singles tournament on the Women’s Tennis Association tour every season for the last 10 years, which is the longest streak of any current player.