Sharapova less fixated on top spot but eager to beat Serena

Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:14pm EST
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By Alexandra Alper

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Regaining the world's top ranking in women's tennis is less important to five-times grand slam winner Maria Sharapova than it was when she was younger, but the Russian is eager to beat dominant player Serena Williams.

Williams beat Sharapova, who is ranked number two, to claim her 19th grand slam singles title in the Australian Open final last month.

Sharapova, who first earned the top spot as an 18-year-old in 2005, has not beaten Williams since 2004.

"I wouldn't say it's as much of a priority as when I was younger," Sharapova told Reuters on Sunday in a telephone interview from the resort town of Acapulco ahead of the annual Mexico Open.

"She is definitely an opponent that I have had a lot of trouble playing against in the last 10 years and someone that I would love to beat," She said.

"I love facing her and I love that challenge. I'm definitely not shy of competing against her."

Sharapova, who will be playing in the Mexico Open for the first time, is the favorite to win against Italian Sara Errani, ranked 16th and America's 20th ranked Madison Keys in this week's matches in Acapulco.

"It's quite a tough deal. There are a lot of girls that have had big wins, even some that are not seeded, so I look forward to tough competition and of course being the number one seed," Sharapova said.

(Editing by Simon Gardner)

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates after defeating Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in their women's singles quarter-final match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 27, 2015.   REUTERS/Thomas Peter