Sharapova Set For Madrid Quest
MADRID, Spain - The final qualification spot for the 2007 Sony Ericsson Championships fell to former champion Maria Sharapova and despite having played just one match since the US Open, she certainly has the pedigree to repeat her 2004 triumph. The young Russian has endured a difficult year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour with a persistent right-shoulder injury hampering her playing schedule. Despite this she still managed to finish runner-up at the Australian Open and capture the prestigious Tier I title in San Diego.
After her heroics in San Diego and Melbourne, arguably Sharapova's next best performance of 2007 came on the punishing clay courts of Roland Garros. The 20-year-old cast aside her injury woes to embark on a memorable run in the French capital, defeating Patty Schnyder 36 64 97 in a thrilling fourth-round battle before eventually falling to an inspired Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals.
Although Sharapova arrives in Madrid short on match practice, the two-time Grand Slam champion possesses a fine record at the season-ending Championships. After winning the prestigious title on her event debut in 2004, the proceeding two years have seen the former world No.1 suffer semifinal heartache - on both occasions losing out to the eventual champion - and she will be desperate to taste more glory when she steps out at the Recinto Ferial Casa de Campo next week.
"This has been a very frustrating year for me physically and I'm really disappointed that I haven't been able to compete as much as I would like," Sharapova said. "But I'm a big competitor and after resting my shoulder for a few weeks I'm determined to compete at the Sony Ericsson Championships."
Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships standing: No.9*
2007 Win-Loss Record: 36-10
2007 Highlights: Won (1): San Diego; R-Up (2): Australian Open, Birmingham; SF (4): Roland Garros, Tokyo [Pan Pacific], Istanbul, Los Angeles
Championships history: Fourth appearance at this event; captured the title on debut in 2004 (d. Kuznetsova, Zvonareva, Myskina en route to final, where d. S.Williams); in 2005 and 2006 fell at semifinal stage to eventual champions Mauresmo and Henin respectively
*Qualified by virtue of Venus Williams' withdrawal due to illness