Sharapova delights at gutsy win on return from layoff
By John O'Brien
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova had not completed a match since losing at Wimbledon in July, so the Russian was naturally thrilled to emerge with a victory at the WTA finals on Sunday after taking time to heal from a number of ailments.
The world number three skipped the U.S. Open in September with a leg strain and aborted a comeback bid in Wuhan at the end of last month in the hope of being fit for the elite eight-woman event. Her patience paid off with a typical gritty win.
Shaking off rust took a little time in her opening Red Group encounter against Agnieszka Radwanska and despite dropping the first set, Sharapova raised her intensity levels enough to grind out a gutsy 4-6 6-3 6-4 triumph.
"Well, I haven't completed a match since July, so I think it's always challenging to come back from not one injury, but a few," Sharapova told reporters after surviving a two hour, 48 minute marathon against the tenacious Pole.
"I've had a lot of starts and stops and I was just really thrilled that despite not playing these last few months and not playing my best tennis, I was facing an opponent that obviously deserved a spot in tournament.
"I just felt like I was able to take myself to another level physically, which I didn't exactly expect that I would be able to. So I think that was the emotion that I felt out of it."
Facing off against a player renowned for her incredible retrieving skills was always likely to be a stamina-sapping test, so Sharapova was impressed by her ability to stay consistent as the clock ticked towards the three hour mark.
"I thought it was a very physical match. I think this court requires all the matches to be. I think it's on the slower side... points are longer," the 28-year-old said of the Singapore Indoor Stadium surface. Continued...