Thank you Roma! pic.twitter.com/0wi6J5LOzU
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) May 17, 2015
(May 17, 2015) Once Maria Sharapova was a self-proclaimed “cow on ice,” in terms of her game on a clay court. Years later with 11 clay court crowns to her name including two French Open titles, the phrase almost seems laughable.
No one was laughing on Sunday, when the Russian rebounded from a first set loss to topple Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to win the Italian Open in two hours and 35 minutes, her third championship in Rome and 35th career title.
“It wasn’t easy to find a rhythm out there, with the way she plays, and the wind….I really had to adjust,” Sharapova said. “But I’m proud I was able to stay in there. I never felt I was playing very clean until the end of the third set. So it shows that it’s good to hang in there and just stay positive out there.
“In the end I was the fresher one, and the more aggressive one, so it’s all a positive. And looking at how I started the clay court season in Stuttgart and where I am now, I feel I’m in a much better spot.”
Sharapova’s week, moves her up a spot in the rankings to No. 2, which means she’ll be the second seed at next week’s second major of the year, the French Open.
Despite the loss in the final Suarez Navarro had a week in which defeated three Top 10 players at the same tournament for the first time in her career, including No. 2 seed Simona Halep. The Spaniard is being rewarded with a jump in the rankings next week from 10 to No. 8.
“I was practicing really hard before Madrid and Rome, and I’m playing some good tennis right now,” she said. “Maria was just too good today. It was a really close match, and I started really well, but at the end of the second set she started playing more aggressive, and I think that was the key.”
“I remember coming to Italy as a little girl and this was one of the tournaments I dreamed of playing,” Sharapova said. “Now to win it for a third time is very special.”
Sharapova has won 62 of her last 68 matches on clay as she heads into the French Open trying to defend last year’s title.