Thursday, January 20, 2005
MARIA SHARAPOVA BECAME AMBASSADOR OF MOSCOW'S APPLICATION FOR HOSTING OLYMPICS IN 2012
Russian woman tennis player Maria Sharapova became an ambassador of Moscow's application for hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, RIA Novosti was told in the information centre of the Moscow 2012 Application Committee on Monday.
"If Moscow becomes the host of the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012, my dream and the dream of millions of Russia's inhabitants will come true. I am looking forward to a chance to explain people why precisely Moscow must become the Olympic city," Maria Sharapova said. "Russia has very rich sports history, and the hosting of the Olympics in Moscow in 2012 will mark the beginning of a new fine chapter in this history."
Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov greeted Maria Sharapova as ambassador of Moscow's application for the Olympics-2012. "We are very glad that Maria, a bright young star on the world sports sky, agreed to become an international ambassador of our application," Mr. Luzhkov said. "She is an ideal symbol of Moscow's application for the right to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012."
Miss Sharapova entered the prestigious and steadily growing list of outstanding athletes and other famous people coming out in support of Moscow's application for the right to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. World champion in boxing Kostantin Tszyu and the members of Russia's national team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens have also become Olympic ambassadors of Moscow's application. Last season Maria Sharapova won the Wimbledon tournament, and at the end of the year - the final competition of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).
AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Interview with Maria Sharapova
Q. You handled a really dangerous opponent really well today, didn't you?MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. You know, she's a very dangerous opponent, especially in a first‑round match. So I knew what to expect. I played her once before last year. Very aggressive player. Attacked her serve. You know, I just played a good, solid first‑round match. You can't expect the best from yourself. But meanwhile, you know, it's good to get through. Q. Are you able to compare this match from the one at Indian Wells, how she's developed since then?MARIA SHARAPOVA: Gosh, so much has happened in that time. I don't know. I was more focused about how I was playing rather than focusing on her.
Q. You found it easier to play her this time than at Indian Wells?MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I think I'm such a ‑‑ I'm a much better player than I was at Indian Wells last year definitely. Q. How do you approach or do you approach Grand Slams differently now, given what happened at Wimbledon last year? Are you much more confident or assured?MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know that it's a very important tournament. There are four a year. The Australian is obviously right at the beginning of the year. So, you know, all of them are a bit different. I think here you don't have as much matches going in as, you know, as you would like going into a Grand Slam. But, you know, I always take it as a really tough tournament, something that I really, really want to win. Q. Do you feel like you're more under the microscope here this year than you were last year?MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, definitely. I've got a lot more fans, a lot more people shouting my name, yeah.Q. Does having played in New York, having had a Grand Slam in New York since Wimbledon, does that help coming in here, having had that experience?MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was obviously tough because, you know, everything happened so fast. And like I've said before many times, I cannot win everything. So obviously I knew I won a Grand Slam. I was very confident going into the tournament. But I knew that you never know what can happen, and I'm still developing my game. It's not that I won a Grand Slam and that all of a sudden I'm going to win everything. And, you know, I understand that. And that's why, you know, my game is still a work in progress. Q. Do you feel that the exhibition matches you played coming into here is a better way to prepare than playing a tournament?MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I do in a sense because the last one, which was in Hong Kong, was a very competitive one. Unfortunately, I got a virus so I couldn't play ‑‑ I couldn't finish the whole thing. But I do take exhibitions very seriously, especially when they're before a Grand Slam.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Maria sticks to tennis
THE IMG Oz Open players party at Crown casino at Breezes was again a major hit among all the top players and, as usual, a fantastic way to start the 2005 party season. IMG big names Maria Sharapova, Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Daniela Huntuchova all turned up on Sunday night.
Sharapova, last year's Wimbledon winner, was dressed in a short denim mini-skirt. It seems she has quite a few fans among Melbourne's AFL ranks. Several of the IMG-managed footy players who wandered into Breezes wanted to meet the superstar from Russia. But she wasn't that keen.
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Impatient Maria Sharapova into Australian Open second round!
MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) - Maria Sharapova of Russia won her teenage battle with Sesil Karatantcheva, advancing to the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-3 6-1 victory. But although the score suggests an easy victory for the 17-year-old Wimbledon champion, Sharapova was tested by a 15-year-old who stretched her to three sets in the Bulgarian's debut tournament at Indian Wells last March. "Shes a very dangerous opponent, especially in a first-round match," said Sharapova. "But I knew what to expect. Very aggressive player." "Shes a very dangerous opponent, especially in a first-round match," said Sharapova. "But I knew what to expect. Very aggressive player." Her greater weight of shot gave Sharapova an advantage, but Karatantcheva's persistence often led to impatient errors from the Russian, who frequently overhit the ball before securing victory in exactly an hour. Committing 19 unforced errors and finding just seven winners in the opening set, Sharapova's tactic was to try and pull her opponent wide.
But Karatantcheva was equal to the challenge and her enterprise was often rewarded in the fiercely contested rallies. A strong start in each set proved to be valuable insurance for Sharapova, who was broken after taking a 2-0 lead in the first set and again after earning a double-break and 3-0 lead in the second. But although Karatantcheva battled well and forced mistakes from Sharapova, she never looked remotely capable of upsetting her fourth-seeded opponent. In the second set Sharapova reduced her errors dramatically, and her more aggressive play eventually proved too much for Karatantcheva to handle. "You know, I just played a good, solid first-round match," Sharapova said. "You can't expect the best from yourself, but meanwhile its good to get through." Sharapova's fairytale performance at Wimbledon last year saw her hailed as the new dominant force in women's tennis. But the youngster is confident of handling the expectations and the inevitable disappointments when things dont go as planned. "Like I've said before, I cannot win everything," she said. "I'm still developing my game. It's not that I won a Grand Slam and all of a sudden I'm going to win everything. "I understand that. My game is still a work in progress."
Sunday, January 16, 2005
How do you win an Open like Maria?
FEW teenagers carry the weight of expectation afforded glamour Russian and Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova. The 17 year-old – one of seven Russians in the world's top 15 – has had all eyes on her since winning her first Grand Slam and the season ending championships last year. But with a maturity beyond her years, don't expect the fourth seed to buckle when the Australian Open hits off tomorrow. "Obviously a lot of people expected me to do well. But at 17, it is impossible to win everything you play and everything you compete in," Sharapova said.
"I don't think that people really understand that I am only 17. I've always played the game because I've loved it. "I never thought that I needed to prove to the world or myself that I am good. I knew that I had a tremendous talent at what I did. But I was only 17 years old and I still am."
Despite the extra attention, Sharapova is still having fun. She enjoys being in the spotlight and dreams of ultimately snaring the world No. 1 ranking. "I get stopped a few more times than I did before – just a few more," she said.
"If I wasn't having fun I wouldn't be playing tennis. I'm an individual who if I don't like to do something I would just drop it and never do it again." A concerted effort to improve her fitness has Sharapova primed for a tilt at a second Grand Slam.
"I've been working on basically getting a little bit stronger," she said. "I've been running on a beach a lot, a lot of sprints.
"Just mainly I want to work on my endurance a lot more where, you know, I can stay out in the heat and play against top players for two weeks. I am very excited to get the new year underway and going finally. "I've had an amazing year. I've learned a lot. I feel ready mentally and physically."
Russian quartet are ready to call the tune with Maria playing lead
Maria is a woman in a hurry and one with a distinct awareness of her destiny. Much has been written, particularly with reference to Yevgeny Kafelnikov, now retired, and Marat Safin, about the suspect Russian temperament - yet it is an argument that Sharapova appears to invalidate.
Her determination and will to win are implacable. She is still capable of tactical inflexibility, sometimes naivety, but she does not lose for want of self-belief. After Wimbledon Sharapova struggled to come to terms with the concomitant pressures, only to re-emerge triumphant at the end-of-season Tour Championships in Los Angeles where, as at Wimbledon, she defeated Serena Williams in the final.
To get to the final here Sharapova may need to defeat Williams again, this time in the semi-finals, while she faces a possible quarter-final against Kuznetsova. The rest of the Russians have no great liking for Sharapova, who has lived in the US since she was nine, and her father, Yuri, displayed worrying signs in Los Angeles of exacerbating such differences.
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MARIA, THE FIGHTER
Maria Sharapova will kill you softly with her will. The dogged fighter and determined competitor never gives up on any point and chases down every ball. She is in fantastic condition as she has followed a very carefully structured physical conditioning programme since young. What's more, she knows it - and this, for her, is a confidence booster during matches.
She uses her condition to intimidate her opponents, by chasing, hitting hard and being relentless in her efforts. A big factor at the moment is the success of her fellow Russians. It's much easier to be strong mentally if you can see other older players from similar backgrounds playing well and being successful.
Maria look like best heading into first Slam
Maria Sharapova cracked the elite ranks of women's tennis last season, and with an Australian Open field weakened by injuries to top players, the 17-year-old Russian has an excellent chance at winning her second major, says Tracy Austin of NBCSports.com.
The 17-year-old Russian won both Wimbledon and the year-ending WTA Championships in 2004, establishing herself as one of the elite players on tour.
Sharapova is healthy and eager to start 2005, and her confidence really got a boost with the two prestigious titles she won last season. Her mindset should be different than last year, as she has shown she can live up to high expectations.
She feels the confidence from her achievements in 2004, but this season there will be some added pressure because since she's risen into the elite ranks of players, opponents will be gunning for her that much more. But she won't struggle with the pressure, seeming to handle all the attention well in the past.
I talked to Sharapova's trainer and he mentioned that the plan was to use the time between the year-ending WTA Championships and the start of the new season to really work on Sharapova's strength. So it will be interesting to see if the teenager is stronger in 2005. Sharapova has the skills, weapons, and motivation to get to the top after finishing last season ranked No. 4
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Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Four Stars Come Out for TAG Heuer
Four Stars Come Out for TAG Heuer as the Luxury Watchmaker Unveils its 2005 Brand Ambassadors and New Ad Campaign Fusing Sport and Glamour - Uma Thurman, Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, and Jeff Gordon Are Presented by Patrick Demarchelier in the TAG Heuer 'What Are You Made Of' Advertising Campaign
Tennis champion Maria Sharapova becomes TAG Heuer's youngest brand ambassador. In just two seasons, she became one of the top-ranking tennis players in the world and the winner of the 2004 Wimbledon and WTA year-end championships. Ms. Sharapova has made her mark on the pro tennis circuit, quickly advancing to the number four spot and winning two of the biggest tournaments in championship tennis. According to the 17-year-old Russian tennis star and third youngest Wimbledon Champion in WTA history, "To represent a brand as legendary as TAG Heuer is a privilege. I am thrilled to become a TAG Heuer brand ambassador. To me, TAG Heuer is a perfect fit because I love fine watches, glamour and winning. I look forward to building a strong relationship with TAG Heuer in the coming years."
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Now everyone's Russian to see her
When Maria Sharapova won her second-round match at last year's Australian Open, nobody really cared. The teenager's news conference was attended by only a few reporters. Yesterday, the Russian world No.4 was the centre of attention as she took on three separate hitting partners in preparation for her third Australian Open next week.
With 12 more months on the international circuit behind her, not to mention a Wimbledon title and several film premieres, Sharapova sharpened up on the best court of them all, Rod Laver Arena.
The withdrawal of reigning champion and former world No.1 Justine Henin-Hardenne, fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters and doubts surrounding Serena Williams, Amelie Mauresmo and Jennifer Capriati, have created a big opportunity for the 17 year-old.
Russia has seven women in the world's top 15 and 14 in the top 100.
World No.3 Anastasia Myskina won last year's French Open and Svetlana Kuznetsova claimed the US title, while Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Nadia Petrova and Elena Bovina are also among the world's top-15 players.
Zvonareva traces Russia's current success back to former world No.1 turned poker-player Yevgeny Kafelnikov and tennis player-model Anna Kournikova.
"I think Kafelnikov and Kournikova did a lot for Russian tennis because they were the first ones who involved lots of different people into tennis," Zvonareva said yesterday. "They started to make more tennis courts, there were more coaches interested in taking players all the way. "We can thank Kafelnikov and Kournikova because lots of kids and parents were watching them and after (that), you got more players."
The Open is the only tournament Sharapova will be seen at during the Australian summer, with WTA age eligibility rules restricting her to 22 events between her 17th and 18th birthdays. Maria, who turns 18 on April 19, already has played 15 of those tournaments. Meanwhile, plenty of tickets remain for most sessions at the two-week tournament, which begins at Melbourne Park on Monday. And the Australian Open has signed a revised, more lucrative deal with American Express. The company has been upgraded from an on-court sponsor to partner-level sponsor.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Maria smiles :))
Maria smiles during the sale of tennis rackets autographed by the participants of the Watsons Water Championships Challenge women's tennis exhibition in Hong Kong on Saturday.
The tournament was won by Russian Elena Dementieva who beat defending champion Venus Williams of the US 3-6, 2-6.
Maria's sneak preview
Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova and world No. 2 Andy Roddick were among the superstars to hit Melbourne Park shortly after arriving yesterday.
Sharapova chose an outside court far away from prying eyes to engage in a series of reflex-sharpening exercises with balls of all sizes under the instructions of her fitness coach.
The Russian blonde demonstrated the nimble footwork that she hopes will carry her through two weeks of heat and seven opponents to a first Australian title.
Maria quits HK tennis exhibition game on fitness concern
Maria Sharapova quit the Hong Kong tennis exhibition game due to concerns upon fitness on Friday. The 17-year-old Russian beauty said she suffered a stomachache and felt too weak to play competition. "Last night at about 2 a.m. I woke up with an upset stomach, feeling cold and flu-like. I called the hotel doctor who gave me some medication," said Sharapova. "This morning I felt very weak, I had no energy and I realized that I simply couldn't play. "The doctor also told me that it would be best for me to rest until at least Monday.
"Obviously I feel very, very sad as I love Hong Kong and I wanted to play well for the fans. I am sorry, " added she. The Russian girl, who came to the Hong Kong exhibition game for the third straight year, suffered her first blow in 2005 to lose the opener to her countrywoman Elena Dementieva 2-1 on Wednesday. It's the second player to quit at the tournament following the Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova withdrawal from Thursday's single match due to gastroenteritis.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Maria Sharapova eyes number one spot
Maria Sharapova took women's tennis by storm when she won Wimbledon in July last year. The Russian, who turned professional at the tender age of 14 in 2001, ended last year as the world number four and topped $2 million in career earnings. The 17-year-old now aims to be world number one as the new season gets underway.
It is very important, but you know at this stage I'm only 17 and you know I obviously didn't think I could win Wimbledon at 17," Sharapova said. Maria has so far won seven tour titles and with the Williams sisters seemingly in decline and Lindsay Davenport a step away from retirement, Sharapova and a bunch of other Russian girls look set to be the leading players in women's tennis. The 17-year-old started playing tennis when she was only four-years-old. And she's come a long way since then. Not only as a talented tennis player but also as a glamorous model. "I've always been sort of glamorous. Lot of people have told me that. But I'm like a renaissance woman, except tennis I love doing other different things," she said. With Sharapova's resolve, a world number one ranking will only be a matter of time for this 17-year-old Russian star.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Maria serves up a real treat for fans
World number four, and Wimbledon champion, Maria Sharapova captured her first tournament of the year by defeating the former US Open champion Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3 in the TAT Invitational Tennis 2005 tournament at Chiang Mai's 700th Anniversary Tennis court yesterday. More than 4,000 people watched the exhibition match on the new tennis court at Chiang Mai sports complex. Presiding over the tennis competition was the Deputy Prime Minister, and LATA president, Mr Suwat Liptapanlop.
Williams started off with the first serve but Russian Sharapova broke the American player in the opening game of the first set to take a 1-0 lead before holding her own serve to make it 2-0.However, Williams came back to tie the score 2-2. The game heated up when Sharapova broke Venus' game in the fifth to make it 3-2 before holding her serve well to increase the margin to 4-2. Former world number one Williams pulled one back then broke the Russian's serves to draw level again at 4-4. However, Sharapova displayed her class by taking the final two games and the first set 6-4.In the second set, the Russian raced into a 5-0 lead before Williams finally managed to win three games back. It looked as though the game might be back on again but Sharapova cemented her victory after a double fault to take the second, and final, set 6-3.Both thanked the enthusiastic crowd for their attendance and also pledged to return to the Kingdom in the future.After the match both players gave their tennis rackets for auction.
Channel 7 director Ms Surang Prempree paid 100,000 baht for Sharapova's racket while Mr Prasert Kulsarin, the managing director of KK Property Co Ltd, won an auction for the same price for Williams' racket. The money will be given to help the tsunami victims in the south.In the one-set doubles action Sharapova and Tamarine Tanasugarn tied 4-4 with Williams and Suchanan Viratprasert. Sharapova and Tamarine won the match 7-3 on tie break.Williams and Maria next head to Hong Kong for another exhibition match.
RUSSIAN FEMALE TENNIS PLAYERS ARE NOT WILLING TO SURRENDER THEIR POSITIONS IN 2005
Russian female tennis players, who achieved remarkable success last year, are not willing to surrender their positions during the new season. Russian tennis players Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonareva, Elena Dementyeva and Svetlana Kuznetsova, who arrived in Hong Kong to participate in the Watsons Water Champions Challenge exhibition tournament, were unanimous in this opinion.
"We hope that next year will be as successful for us as the previous year. We are making significant progress with each passing year and we hope to impress the world in 2005 even more," Svetlana Kuznetsova told a RIA Novosti correspondent. According to Maria Sharapova, the year 2004 was amazingly successful for Russian female tennis. "It will be very hard to repeat last year's success, but we hope will manage to do it," she said. Russian tennis players believe that the major reason for such an incredible success was severe competition. "We compete against each other; therefore we develop faster," Svetlana Kuznetsova emphasized.
"It would be impossible to find a general explanation of our achievements," Elena Dementyeva underlined. "Each of us has personal motives for success."
Russian tennis players also revealed their plans for 2005. "My favorite tournament of the Grand Slam is the French Open, and I would really want to win this tournament," Elena Dementyeva confessed. "I would definitely want to repeat last year's success and win the American Open," Svetlana Kuznetsova shared her dreams with journalists. Watsons Water Champions Challenge exhibition tournament starts in Hong Kong on Wednesday, January 5. Aside from the Russian tennis players, Americans Serena and Venus Williams, Spaniard Aranta Sanchez Vicario and the rising star of the Czech tennis Nicole Vaidisova will participate in the tournament. The organizers had to introduce some changes in the program of the tournament in connection with the tragic events in South East Asia. The opening ceremony will commence with a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the natural disaster. During the tournament, the organizers plan to conduct a series of special charity events in order to collect funds to provide assistance to countries affected by the disaster.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Russian tennis queens hope reign will continue in new year!
PARIS: Russia's tennis tsarinas, who dominated 2004 with three of the four Grand Slams and a first ever Fed Cup to their names, aim to hammer home their dominance in 2005. Of the 60 WTA events played in 2004, Russian women won 14 of them with Anastasia Myskina taking the French Open, Maria Sharapova the Wimbledon crown before Svetlana Kuznetsova snatched the US Open title.
By the end of the year, there were five in the top 10 as they gleefully leapt into the gap left by the injury-plagued Belgian pair of Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters as well as the declining powers of the Williams sisters. But despite their successes, no Russian woman managed to grab the world number one spot which would have been another first.
Instead, the end of year tussle at the top was won by American veteran Lindsay Davenport who edged Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo. With the new season getting underway on Monday with tour events in Adelaide and Auckland as well as the Hopman Cup in Perth, it is that race to the top spot which is dominating the thoughts of the Russians.
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