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Monday, July 22, 2024

Sharapova eager to shed 'cow on ice' tag

Maria Sharapova once described her movement on clay as like a “cow on ice” but the Russian has now taken steps to shed that tag as she bids to complete her grand slam collection by winning a maiden French Open title.The second seed came to Roland Garros after capturing titles in Stuttgart and Rome and showed no mercy on Tuesday during a 6-0 6-0 first round demolition of Romanian Alexandra Cadantu.The scoreline was an indication of the strides Sharapova has taken on the slow Parisian surface, where she has never made it past the semi-finals.How did she get there?”There’s no substitute for work and physical work and hours on the court, hours from the court,” the Siberian-born, Florida-based Sharapova told a news conference.”Also just experience. You learn. Over the years you learn what your body can take, what it can’t, what you need, how you recover better,” she added to explain her progress on the physically demanding surface.”Little by little… I’m not ever going to be lifting 50-pound weights any time soon or ever, but it’s little things, little muscles, little explosive steps that I feel like I’ve improved.”The improvement changed Sharapova’s approach to the French Open as she now feels she has enough in the tank for a seven-match, two-week tournament on clay.On Tuesday, Sharapova was her usual sulky, aggressive self, peppering a sunsoaked Court Suzanne Lenglen with winners to crush world number 78 Cadantu in 48 minutes.”Physically… and mentally… I believe I can play seven matches and I can play them all tough and I can recover well, which really (used to) hurt me a lot,” she said.”Before I would play three-set matches where I’d have to dig deep in the beginning of the event… but (then) for the next match it was just like the balloon popped.”The balloon did not pop on Tuesday and Sharapova cracked a few smiles after dismissing her opponent.Sharapova, who has a chance of taking over from Victoria Azarenka as world number one depending of the Belarussian’s run in Paris, blew kisses to the crowd after wrapping up the match when Cadantu sent a backhand long on the first match point.The Russian will next face Japan’s Ayumi Morita.

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