Sharapova faulty at service line again at U.S. Open

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova said it was a grand slam year of missed opportunities after service woes haunted the former world number one at the U.S. Open Monday.

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Sharapova committed 36 unforced errors, including nine double faults in falling 6-3 6-4 in the fourth round to top seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, last year’s runner-up.

“Obviously, a bit unfortunate in the grand slams,” Sharapova told reporters after the hard-fought affair.

“I had my fair share of chances and didn’t take them throughout this whole year in the big events. That’s just the way it’s gone.”

Three-time grand slam winner Sharapova, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, lost in the first round of the Australian Open, the third round of the French Open and the fourth at Wimbledon.

After a shoulder operation aborted her 2008 season and caused her to struggle with serving, Sharapova seemed to be on the road back to top form, but she is still struggling to put her game together.

Against the Dane, Sharapova cracked 32 winners but too often seemed willing to trade groundstroke blows, which played into the strength of Wozniacki’s game.

“I certainly could have been more aggressive,” said Sharapova, who converted one of nine break points Monday. “I did quite well when I was moving forward and being aggressive.

“But I don’t think I did that enough. And that really allowed her to stand far back behind the baseline and keep retrieving balls. And that’s just what she does best.”

Sharapova showed off her punishing power, especially with the forehand, and fought gamely but was let down by her serve.

Wozniacki broke the Russian three times in the match, twice on double-faults. From 40-30 in the fourth game of the match, Sharapova double faulted three successive times to trail 3-1.

The sole service break in the second set came on a Sharapova double fault in the seventh game.

Last year, Sharapova was bounced out of the third round by unseeded American Melanie Oudin, committing an appalling 21 double faults in the match.

Sharapova, 23, gave credit to 20-year-old Wozniacki.

“She’s much steadier. She’s improved a lot. She served a lot better today. She capitalized. She was really smart on big points,” said Sharapova.

“I think I just need to be more stable and not so up and down.”

Editing by Steve Ginsburg