Top spot not primary focus for Sharapova
Originally published on: 25/10/11 10:54
Maria Sharapova may have an outside chance of finishing the year as the top ranked player in the world for the first time since 2004, but the three-time Grand Slam champ says she isn’t focussing on nabbing the top spot from Caroline Woznaicki.
The 24-year-old Russian must at least reach the final at the WTA Championships in Istanbul this week if she is to have a chance of leapfrogging the Dane, but she will not be able to pull off the feat if Wozniacki makes the final.
Sharapova retired from her quarter-final with Petra Kvitova at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo with an ankle injury a few weeks ago and, first and foremost, she is simply pleased to have made it to Turkey’s inaugural hosting of the year-end showpiece.
“It’s tough to talk about [the No.1 spot] coming off the injury in Tokyo and not even knowing if I’d be able to compete for the rest of the year,” Sharapova told the assembled press in Istanbul. “I think I’m just fortunate enough to say that I’m here and I’m going to be competing. That, to me, is a big accomplishment by itself.”
“The last couple of years at this time I was sipping a margarita on the beach and now I have another tournament. So I’m quite excited about it.”
Sharapova has been drawn in the white group for the year-end event, along with Victoria Azarenka, French Open champion Li Na and US Open champ Sam Stosur.
“I think we all know what to expect going into the groups,” added the Russian, who is making her fifth appearance at the year-end event. “It’s the top eight girls of the year. You’re going to get a tough group either way and tough opponents. It’s just a matter of being ready from the first match on.”
Wozniacki, meanwhile, is drawn in the Red Group alongside Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska, and the 21 year old has no plans to relinquish her spot at the top of the WTA ladder.
“Of course when you’ve been No. 1 the whole year, you’d like to finish the last week as number one as well,” she said. “That would mean a lot to me since not a lot of people have finished the year two times in a row as No. 1.”