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Old Aug 28th, 2012, 08:54 PM   #4971
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 2
Sharapova finding her form in New YorkBy Matt Cronin
Monday, August 27, 2012
Maria Sharapova has been coming to New York since she was a young teenager first contesting the juniors and then later worked her way up ladder as a pro, eventually winning the US Open title in 2006.

But in her sole junior appearance in 2001 as a 14-year-old , she didn't last more than few days, falling to Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi (who currently holds a WTA ranking of No. 15) in the second round.

She was a wafer thin girl back then, still loud and talented, but extremely raw. She had only been living in the United States for six years then, so the towering metropolis that surrounded her when she rode the bus out to Queens was a little intimidating.

“When I came to New York I always thought this would be the toughest to win,” she said. “Its energy is amazing, but in the beginning it's certainly overwhelming. But my experience has helped me a lot, because from feeling like I was very small in a very huge city with so much energy, I really embraced it over the years. I came into New York and I absolutely love it with all its craziness and the fans and the late night matches. You get used to it.”

On Arthur Ashe stadium during the opening round Sharapova took down Melina Czink 6-2, 6-2. It was the 25-year-old’s 25th victory at the tournament where she has had remarkable success, like when she bested No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo and No. 1 Justine Henin for the 2006 title. She has experienced serious heartache here, like in 2005 when she lost an extremely close three setter to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in the semis, which brought her to tears.

She was shocked by a teenage Agnieszka Radwanska in gale force winds in 2007 and then the next year, unhappily dragged herself to New York to meet some commercial obligations even though she had been forced to pull out of the tournament due to a severe should injury, for which she would undergo surgery for a month later.

Her US Open return in 2009 wasn't satisfying when US teenager Melanie Oudin took her down in the third round. She sprayed errors all over the court in a defeat to Caroline Wozniacki in 2010 and the Flavia Pennetta ran her into the ground in three sets in 2011.

She has managed to reach the final of every other Grand Slam since her shoulder surgery and even won Roland Garros three months ago. The No. 3 seed in New York, she is certainly due to reach the second week again.

“I haven't been far here, past the first week, in a long time,” she said. “I would love to get that back. I haven't played at a level that I wanted to play here. There shouldn't be any reason why I can't, having the success that I had for a few years, winning it in '06. That's certainly something that I'm looking to get back.”

But until Monday, she had not played a match since the Olympics as she caught a stomach virus in London just prior to her quick loss to Serena Williams in the gold medal match of the Games.

She was pleased to have won the silver medal, but anyone who knows Sharapova realizes that even if she doesn’t take defeats as hard as she used to, she could not have been pleased with 6-0, 6-1 loss to Serena.

But she had gone to Europe to begin the clay courts season earlier than she ever had - at the start of April - and contested six big events, winning three of them. She needed to put her head on a pillow and isn’t concerned that she has been without matches for a few weeks.

She was being, as she said, “dramatic” when after being hit with the stomach bug, she went to get a blood test and an untrasound.

“[I went to get the tests [just because of the pain I was having. It was really weird. They told me I was fine, not pregnant. I'm like, Can I get my money back?’”

This season, Sharapova has been able to find her way past almost every elite player even if she had taken bad loses to them before, such as when she [slightly] avenged her Australian Open defeat to Victoria Azarenka by besting the No. 1 in Stuttgart.

But there is one player whom she has not been able to figure out since 2004: Serena Williams, who numbs her with her serve and makes her nervous from inside the baseline. Wimbledon champion and Olympic gold medalist Serena is many analysts’ overwhelming favorite to win the US Open. Sharapova knows that Serena is at the top of the prediction charts, but has been around long enough to know that tides can turn quickly.
“Obviously of course she's the favorite because she won those two big events back-to-back,” Sharapova said. “But everybody is still in the draw here. It starts from the first round on, and that's why everybody is here.”

When she defeated Sara Errani to win Roland Garros, Sharapova completed the career Grand Slam (winning all four majors). It was extraordinary feat for a player once considered too clumsy to be able to win on clay, but Sharapova says that she is not prepared to rest on her laurels the rest of the year. She knows the importance of the US Open, and does not want to be seen as a player who has begin to consistently underperform in the biggest tournament in a country where she makes her home.

“This is the last big one,” she said. “This is kind of where you have to put all your energy. Even though it's not the last tournament of the year, you feel like this is where you can put all the work and effort into this one big event. I mean, it's very meaningful. It's big. It's New York City. There's no reason why I shouldn't perform my best here.”
Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Zvonareva, Kuznetsova, Makiri, Vika, W sisters, Sarita, Domi, Halep, Dinarik tnx for all!
ROGER FEDERER, RAFA NADAL, Delpo, Kei, Spanish Armada
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