The stunning Russian and former world No.1 will attempt to complete a career Grand Slam at the French Open. But can she triumph on the clay?
Maria Sharapova's baseline power has given her a solid record at the French Open, with five attempts at the most elusive of all the Grand Slams.
After a first-round exit aberration in 2003, she has twice made the quarter-finals, and last year made the semi-final, being defeated by Ana Ivanovic. She has an impressive 19-5 record on the clay of Paris, but will have it all to do to beat four-time champion Justine Henin.
Sharapova has the momentum behind her to do so, winning the first Grand Slam of the year with an impressive victory in Melbourne. She has won three titles in 2008 so far, but her most significant title coming towards France was less than a month ago when she claimed her first clay-court title of her career at the Bausch & Lomb Championships in Amelia Island, Florida. She defeated Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(7), 6-3 she was, however, the top seed in the tournament.
The Russian glamour girl is a power player, preferring to volley from the baseline, and having a consistent weapon with her double-handed backhands and offensive serves. A lot of this comes from her considerable height, which is coupled with remarkable agility for a statuesque woman. Often playing her shots on the run, she is particularly dangerous on fast-playing courts, with a solid record on grass and rebound ace style venues.
This is her weakness as such on clay. Not being a defensive-minded player, the slowing down of the ball and the higher bounce leads her to be vulnerable on the volley. She has vocally stated that she is trying to add to her all-power game, as complete players with power games can capitalise on this - particularly the Williams sisters.
Winning the clay-master title at Paris may be as much mental as it is a physical challenge, with Maria describing herself as a cow on ice.
Sharapova turned professional in 2001, playing in the Slams but not progressing beyond the fourth round on any tournament. She won two minor titles but impressed enough to be name WTA newcomer of the year.
Leading up to 2004, the young Russian became a regular competitor at Tier One and Masters events, reaching the latter stages of numerous tournaments. It was then that she reached the quarter-finals of Roland Garros, then her best-ever Grand Slam result.
At Wimbledon in 2004 she beat Lindsay Davenport and defending champion Serena Williams to cause one of the biggest upsets in tennis history, winning the elite grass title, and become at the time the lowest seed to win and the first Russian. She finished the year ranked No.4 in the world.
In 2005 she participated in more clay-court events, reaching the quarter and semi-finals at the German and Italian open respectively. At Roland Garros she was eliminated by eventual champion Henin in the quarter-finals. In 2005 she was eliminated in every Grand Slam by the eventual champions reaching three semi-finals. She was also temporarily the No.1 ranked woman in the world, and finished the year as the top-ranked Russian.
In 2006 she played at Roland Garros without entry to any warm-up events because of injury. She was eliminated by Dinara Safina. However, she won the US Open , beating the first and second ranked players in the world to take the championship. She finished the year with a 59-9 record, her best return on the tour.
Last year began with her losing to Serena Williams in the Australian Open final, where she was No.1 seed. That was the highlight of her poor year, in which she won just one title and suffered dramatically inconsistent form.
This year, she defeated Henin at the first Slam of the year, breaking the world No.1s 32-game winning streak on her way to becoming the first Russian woman to win at Melbourne Park.
She won her most significant title coming towards France less than a month ago, then competed at the Family Circle Cup, another clay championship, but lost to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals. She did, however, climb to be the third-ranked woman in the world due to this result.
Sharapova has the necessary build-up and momentum to win the title - more than she has ever had before. Either way, the Russian star is an impressive sight, both to watch and to look at as she attempts to win her first full house of Grand Slams.