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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Maria could soon reach No. 1

Maria Sharapova could soon reach No. 1 at 18. If she wins this week's German Open, Sharapova will move up one spot and overtake Lindsay Davenport to become the first Russian atop the WTA Tour computer rankings since they began in 1975. "If it works out, it works out," Maria said Monday. "If not, I have a lot of years ahead of me."

Maria Sharapova

She is ranked a career-high No. 2, followed by Amelie Mauresmo, Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva. Martina Hingis was the tour's youngest No. 1, getting there in March 1997 at age 16. None of Maria's nine titles has come on clay, but she hopes to use this tournament on that slow surface as a springboard to contending at the French Open, which starts May 23. She reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros last year -- her best showing at any Grand Slam tournament to that point in her nascent career.

That gave me a lot of confidence," she said. "But it may have been different if I had more experience on clay." Maria is also ranked on a different sort of list: People magazine selected her as one of the world's 50 most beautiful people. "I have always followed the voting. It's nice to be one of the most beautiful people," she said. "But when you step on the court, you either notice the people looking at you or you don't. I don't." She said it has been a dizzying climb since winning Wimbledon 11 months ago. "Everything's happened so fast," she said. "There's not a lot of time to look back and be excited."

Seeded second in Berlin behind defending champion Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova was given a first-round bye. Her opening match will be Wednesday against Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Мария Шарапова


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