Maria Sharapova: I overcame clay-court woes
Sharapova, who won at Roland Garros in 2012, is expected to capitalise on the early departures of Serena Williams, Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska in Paris this year.
The Russian 27-year-old saw off latest threat Sam Stosur of Australia in their fourth-round battle on Sunday, to set up a quarter-final battle with Spanish rising star Garbine Muguruza.
Sharapova has reached the last eight at the clay-court major at five of her past six attempts, eight times overall, and she said breaking through on the surface was tough for her at the start of her career.
“My relationship (with the clay) started very slow, it was very ugly at the beginning and it was a big learning process for me,” Sharapova said.
“I took it upon myself to get better and to physically improve because I figured I’d have no chance if I ever wanted to achieve anything on this (surface).
“I didn’t want to be a player like I saw who were coming here and if they won a first round or saw a name in the first round and it said Spain or Argentina next to that name they knew they didn’t have a chance.
“I knew I didn’t want to be that player.”
On upcoming opponent Muguruza, who will make her first appearance in a major quarter-final, Sharapova said the Spaniard has been on the rise for some time on the WTA Tour.
“I just finished my fourth round an hour ago and my next one is an opponent that just had one of her best Slam runs so far and someone that we’ve heard about for a couple of years up and coming, and this is certainly her breakthrough tournament,” he said.
“She’s playing with all the confidence and that’s going to be a challenge for me but that’s what I love about this game.”
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