MELBOURNE: World number two Maria Sharapova said Saturday she was happy to abstain from her favorite tipple as she seeks to regain the game’s top ranking by winning the Australian Open.
A victory at next week’s season-opening Grand Slam would see the Russian leapfrog arch-rival Serena Williams and take the coveted number one spot she last held in 2012.
Sharapova, who opened her 2015 season in blistering form to win the Brisbane International, said she had completed a grueling off-season and was confident a nagging should injury was finally behind her.
“I felt like I could really train and push myself a little bit more physically,” she said.
The 27-year-old, who won the third of her five Grand Slams at Melbourne Park in 2008, said she was one of the players to beat at this year’s tournament after a strong 2014 season when she won the French Open.
“I’m sure I’m one of them, I mean I’m number two in the world — I had a great season last year winning a Grand Slam, ” she said.
The glamorous Sharapova, the biggest earner in women’s sport with endorsement’s that dwarf her on-court earnings of US$32.5 million, revealed her competitive fire still burns bright a decade after winning her first major at Wimbledon.
Asked if she would rather be relaxing at home in Florida watching the ocean with a glass of wine in hand, she said the feeling of winning a trophy was hard to beat.
“It is sometimes nice to think that I could be on the couch watching on TV. I don’t know if I’d actually be watching, but, yeah. I don’t know if I’d be drinking wine, maybe sangria actually,” she said.
“I have a choice. The best part about it is that I have an opportunity to go out and try to win this tournament… when you’re holding the trophy, God you can have as many sangrias as you like, so that sounds a lot better.”
She said a disappointing performance at Melbourne Park in 2014, when she lost to eventual finalist Dominika Cibulkova, had made her determined build on her performance in Brisbane and succeed at Melbourne Park this year.
“I thought I did many things well (in Brisbane) but I’m not going into next week throwing flowers at myself or anything,” she said.
“I’m starting from scratch. I’m hungry. I’m determined to do better. I lost in the fourth round here (last year). That’s not a result I want. I want to do much better. I’m here to try to win the title.”