Sharapova Takes Aim At Top Spot
Published December 05, 2012 03:36
MILAN, Italy - The season may be over, but Maria Sharapova's attentions have already turned to 2013.
Sharapova finished 2012 in fine form, reaching the final of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012, a result that saw her end the year as World No.2 - her highest finish since 2006.
And now, the Russian, who stepped up her preparations for the coming season at an exhibition event alongside the Top 20 trio of Ana Ivanovic, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in Milan over the weekend, has her sights set on the top spot.
"Obviously, the goal is always to shoot for top spot and that's always where you want to be and stay," Sharapova said in Milan.
Staying at No.1 has often been the hard part for the 25-year-old, who over the course of her career has held the coveted ranking for a total of 21 weeks and on five separate occasions.
The most recent of these stints came earlier this year, after Sharapova completed her Grand Slam collection at Roland Garros. However, her stay at the top of the tennis tree was an all too fleeting one, lasting just four weeks before being deposed by Victoria Azarenka.
Reaching No.1 is only half the challenge, and, as Sharapova is only too aware, the other half is about staying there. "It's one thing to reach the No. 1 ranking, another to keep it," she admitted.
Yet, with competition at the top of the rankings fiercer than ever - Sharapova trails Azarenka by 550 points, with the in-form Serena Williams just 645 points further back - she will have her work cut out in 2013.
Luckily, Sharapova knows just what it takes to overhaul the two modern greats battling it out with her at the top of the rankings: hard work and winning.
The first of these is a given when talking of Sharapova, whose indomitable spirit and dedication, both on and off the court, have characterized her career to date, while the second is something she is every bit as synonymous with.
In fact, so familiar has she been with that winning feeling, that - statistically, at least - 2012 was her most successful campaign on record, with 60 wins to her name.
"Obviously, to get to No.1 is great, but what's most important, and the main goal, is to win as many matches as you can. Then the ranking takes care of itself," she added.
"To get to No. 1 the only thing to do is to work hard and you have to treat every match, no matter what it is, the same. That's what we all do."
And, despite there being no points at stake, Sharapova proved true to her word in Milan; the one-day event saw her score singles wins over both Errani and Vinci at a packed Mediolanum Forum on the outskirts of Milan, before teaming up with Ivanovic in a narrow doubles defeat against the Italian duo.