Hopeful Sharapova dreams without sleep

Hopeful Sharapova dreams without sleep

ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
Hopeful Sharapova dreams without sleep

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Having come close to achieving dreams without sleep, Maria Sharapova was resting yesterday in the knowledge that a perfect end to a fairytale year is within her grasp.

The game’s greatest survivor overcame constant deficits in a three-hour match with Agnieszka Radwanska which finished in the early hours of yesterday morning, carrying Sharapova exhausted to her bed and to a place in the semifinals of the WTA Championships tomorrow.

It means the tenacious Russian can still finish a character-defining season in which she completed a career Grand Slam by capturing the season-end title she last won in her breakthrough season eight years ago.

For a player who was warned she might never be the same after a shoulder operation four years ago, and who has had to compensate for a reduction in the effectiveness of her service ever since, it is all a massive achievement.

“It was such a physical match,” said Sharapova after a 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 win which equaled the longest in number of games of any match in the 40-year history of the WTA Championships.

“It just came down just to a few points in the end. It was an example of not playing my best tennis at all, fighting through it, hanging in there, and getting it done.

“No matter if it’s, you know, a hard shot or a lower slice that has no pace, she makes you work for it,” Sharapova said of the world number four from Poland whose intelligent, varied game dominated many periods of the match.

A slower court

“But I found a way to get through those points against her which is not always easy, especially on a slower court like this. I fought and I won, so I’m happy.”

Sharapova covered so many acres of ground that at one point, when she managed to get Radwanska to do more of the running for a change, she appeared to give a celebratory yell of, “run, run, run!” And the struggle was so uphill that there were times when she seemed to be disagreeing with coach Thomas Hogstedt.

“I was just aggravated because I was making errors and wasn’t doing the right things,” Sharapova explained.

“In the heat of the moment you’ve got to blame it on someone, right? It’s never on yourself,” she added.