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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Maria back in Japan to defend Pan Pacific Title

Maria Sharapova will defend her title of the Pan Pacific Open tournament to start on Tuesday. Maria won her first career title at the Japan Open in 2003 and took her third title in Tokyo a year ago.

Maria Sharapova

She will play her first match against a qualifier in the top half, which also includes sixth seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, third seed Nathalie Dechy of France and eighth seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Montenegro.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Australian Open - 2006

Maria Sharapova fought her way out of trouble to beat sixth seed Nadia Petrova in an all-Russian quarterfinal at the Australian Open on Tuesday, setting up a semifinal clash with Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Maria Sharapova

Fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova had to dig deep and break her opponent twice to force the opening set to a tie-breaker, then saved two set points before winning a first set that featured six service breaks. The former Wimbledon champion struggled in an error-strewn second set, but after fending off three break points at 5-4, she closed out the match 7-6, 6-4 in two hours. "It was definitely not easy. We were breaking each other's serves left and right out there. It was a miracle when someone held serve," Maria told a news conference. "I just tried to hang in there. It's really tough being down two set points. But I gutted it out in the first point, then had an easy second point."


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Fourth seed Maria Sharapova has survived her toughest test yet at this year's Australian Open to fight her way into the quarter finals with a gritty straight sets win over Daniela Hantuchova.

Maria Sharapova

Maria ground out a 6-4, 6-4 victory in 1hr 37 mins to ensure the 17th seed Slovak, who dumped defending champion Serena Williams from the tournament, did not repeat her giant-killing feat. The Russian was broken in her first service game and said she started the match sluggishly on a hot Melbourne night. "Today was probably one of the hottest days I've ever experienced in my life. I mean, it was pretty brutal out there," she said, describing the Australian Open as the most physically demanding of the tour's four Grand Slams.

"I just kept calm and tried to break her and tried to get the momentum back and it went my way in the end," said the former Wimbledon champion, who almost skipped the tournament because of a rib injury. But she declared she was now approaching peak form and was excited to reach the quarter-finals of a tournament she had feared she would miss. "Little by little I am," she said. "It was good today, I kept my composure when I was down at the beginning of both of the sets." "You just hope for the best and hope that you get better and better as the matches go on -- I feel like that's been happening.

"I feel like I've been improving with every match. Every match has been getting a little bit tougher and different." Hantuchova, 22, said she pulled a muscle in her left leg while racing to a second set lead and her movement was restricted when she resumed playing after having her thigh strapped.

But the former world number five, who is rebuilding her career after her ranking went into freefall in 2003, said she left the tournament feeling her comeback was on track after beating seven-time Grand Slam winner Williams. "I'm taking home some really nice memories, especially from the match against Serena," she said. "It was something very special for me. "Today I felt, again, that I was very close. But it just showed me the few little things that I still need to work on and improve. Hopefully next time I come back here, I will be even more ready."

Maria will next meet her compatriot, sixth seed Nadia Petrova, who defeated her in their last meeting.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Maria Sharapova continues to lead the Russian charge in Melbourne after she crushed Jelena Kostanic in straight sets. The fourth seed set the tone for the contest by breaking the Croatian's serve in the second game as she raced to a 6-0 6-1 win.

Maria Sharapova

The match lasted just 68 minutes as Kostanic won just one game on her own serve, although Maria insisted afterwards that the victory was not as easy as the score suggests.

"I wouldn't say that was really easy, mentally it was pretty tough when you know you've got a very patient opponent and you know that it's really hot out there," she said. "I mean, you've got to be really tough, and the score doesn't really explain the match."

Maria also admitted that the conditions in Melbourne are tough on the players as they battle against soaring temperatures during the day. "When it's that hot, just mentally you've got to be so tough," the reigning US Open champion said. "I know it's very physical out there, but if you just keep positive, I'm ready for the challenge,
that's why I'm here."


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Maria advances to third round

Women's No 4 seed Maria Sharapova advanced to the third round of the Australian Open tennis championship tonight, overcoming stubborn American qualifier Ashley Harkleroad 6-1 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena.

Maria Sharapova

Maria saved three set points in an hour-long second set to finally break down Harkleroad, eventually holding her serve in the 10th game then breaking the American immediately after to win their second round match. The Russian, who had been battling shoulder and rib problems coming into the tournament, now plays Zuzana Ondraskova of the Czech Republic.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Maria confident heading into season

Q: What is new about you and your game coming into 2006?
A: I am really looking forward to the upcoming season and have been working especially hard on my fitness. I also am playing with a new racket ... a new frame from Prince, the O3 White, that helps me to get the racket through the air faster and quicker.

Maria Sharapova

Q: Do those things give you a confidence boost?
A: Definitely. ... If I can get the racket through the air faster, I get more spin and more power.

Q: Women's tennis is very deep and talented at the top, and all of the top players are in Melbourne. There hasn't been one dominant player recently, so do you think this tournament is wide open? How do you assess your chances?
A: I think anything can happen. Everyone is playing well, and I am just looking forward to getting out and playing and starting the season. ... There are a lot of strong players, and being the first big tournament of the season, everyone will be focused and ready to play.

Q: What are your expectations for the year?
A: To be happy and healthy.


Prince Announces Maria Sharapova Will Switch Racquets to the New O3 White

BORDENTOWN, N.J., Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- This January, Prince Sports is
launching the newest member of its revolutionary O3 Engineered family of
tennis racquets -- O3 White. In an extraordinary move, the company announced
today that tennis superstar, Maria Sharapova, currently ranked number four in
the world, is switching to the new racquet.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova and the new racquet
will make their debut at this year's Australian Open, from January 16 to 29

"I have made the switch to the O3 White as it is much faster through the
air and allows me to generate more spin and power without losing control,"
Sharapova said. "It is a really stable racquet and I feel like I can go for
every shot and hit more winners."

The Prince O3 White racquet

"The fact that a player at the top of her game is switching to the
industry's hottest new technology makes a big statement about the power of
design and engineering to improve performance," said Doug Fonte, president of
Prince. "We are so proud to have Maria as part of our team. She's determined.
And her input has been invaluable as we've extended O3 technology to new
racquets in the line. We're looking forward to cheering for her through 2006.
She represents everything that Prince is about -- an integrity, fearlessness
and joy about the game that is inspirational."

Prince's Power Player goes beyond the Ordinary with O3 White
A Prince player since she was nine years old, Sharapova worked closely
with Prince to help refine the design of the new O3 White. "As soon as I
picked up the racquet it felt right," said Sharapova. "I played with it for
only a few days before I knew that O3 could make my game better. I'm happy to be working with such a great company. Prince has always been there for me; and now we're working even more closely together to help me win."

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Maria Sharapova Ready for Australian Open Start

Russian ace Maria Sharapova has revealed she nearly didn’t make it to Melbourne for the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year, the Age website reported Sunday.

Maria Sharapova

“I spoke to Maria and it was a bit of a race against time for her,” Open chief executive Paul McNamee said of last year’s semi-finalist.“She wasn’t certain to come, but she’s here and giving it her best shot.”Sharapova, the former world No. 1, practiced at Rod Laver Arena after arriving from the United States."

The Russian superstar, scratching from last week’s Australian Women’s Hardcourt title on the Gold Coast, laughed and joked her way through her first practice session, the Herald Sun added. Maria Sharapova did not over-extend herself while serving and struggled a little for touch, but showed that her renowned forehand has lost none of its venom.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Maria Sharapova's Top Beauty Secrets?

Like most tennis stars Maria Sharapova goes to great lengths to look her best whilst performing under pressure at tennis championships. She also needs to be confident that her products won't let her down which is why she loves the fresh feeling of Palmolive deodorants, which are strong on protection and soft on the skin.

Maria Sharapova

To keep her youthful appearance Maria loves to treat herself with lots of beauty products, as well as swearing by regular exfoliation to keep her skin smooth & glowing. She recommends that to stay healthy you need to have at least eight hours sleep, drink plenty of water and follow a well balanced diet that is rich in carbohydrates and protein. To help maintain her fabulous figure Maria regularly practices yoga and goes to the gym!

So how does Maria relax off centre court? Like any regular eighteen year old Maria loves fashion, singing and dancing. Shopping is a particular favourite, with a well scheduled shopping trip en-route to most tournaments! Her favourite films include Love Actually and Something's Gotta Give, and she is also a bit of a bookworm, tucking into meaty thrillers by the likes of John Grisham when on long flights. She has also been known to indulge her sweet tooth by occasionally eating her favourite dessert - crepes with chocolate spread!And what is her secret for staying so slim and attractive? Plenty of sleep, lots of yoga and playing tennis in the fresh air!



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