Maria Sharapova became only the sixth woman in tennis history to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in her career when she defeated Italian Sara Errani in straights sets at Roland Garros Saturday.
The 25 year-old Russian played probably the best tennis of her career. Her serve was on, her ground strokes were as sharp and powerful as ever, and here movement both laterally and vertically was much better than in past tournaments. Sharapova, now ranked number one, showed that she deserves the ranking.
This was the lanky Russian’s first trip to the French Open Finals; prior to this her best effort had gotten her only as far as the semi-finals. Sharapova now has a win in every Grand Slam.
“It probably is the most special moment in my career,” Sharapova told NBC Sports;’ Mary Carillo. “I actually never thought that the day would come especially after winning Wimbledon at 17 years old. I thought that would be the most incredible thing I’d achieve, but when I lifted that trophy today I fell to me knees—I never felt this happy it’s really incredible.”
Sharapova turned pro at 15, and at 17 exploded onto the world scene by beating Serena Williams at Wimbledon. After that, a painful comeback form career-threatening shoulder surgery, problems with her serve, and a long drought of victories tested her resolve.
“I’ve been through a lot in the last years, it’s been a long road back it—certainly wasn’t the quickest comeback, that’s for sure,” she explained, laughing. “It took a few years to get to this stage but when you’re going through those tough loses and you’re thinking, ‘How long can I do this? I’ve worked so hard and nothing is coming and it‘s so slow;’ but then you get to this stage and things just happen. All the work that you put in two years, three years ago, it all matters. It all counts towards this day.”
Sharapova won in straight sets, but did not win easily. Her opponent, 28th-ranked Sara Errani (ranked 10th after this weekend,) had incredibly mobility and great volleying skills, though her server was weak.
The 25-year-old Italian nearly turned the match around with inspired play in the fifth game, which she stretched to deuce five times before very delivering a perfect drop shot which, to the amazement of all, Sharapova was able to run down and return. Errani then broke her opponent’s serve in game six, though Sharapova broke right back to serve for the match.
Errani didn’t give up—she didn’t give an inch, fighting hard for every point. She forced Sharapova to hit amazing shots, and tested the Russian’s mobility, which had been a weak spot in her game. In the end, Errani didn’t have the firepower; Sharapova hit everything hard, nailed the corners, covered the court as if jet-propelled, and simply didn’t give Errani a chance to get ahead. She fought off a couple match points, but couldn’t deny Sharapova forever.
“She hit the sickest two drop shots I’ve ever seen,” Sharapova said of the difficult final set. “I thought, ‘That’s not good, that’s really not good, especially if we are going to keep playing. Obviously those two worked and she is going to keep doing it.’ I served really well on those deuce points which was really important and tough match points as well, which she won, and it was a battle.”
Next on the schedule is Wimbledon, where Sharapova won her first grand Slam, followed by the Olympics, where Sharapova has yet to win Singles gold. There is a lot of great tennis coming in the next two months.
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