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As someone who has achieved a career Grand Slam, Maria Sharapova knows what it takes to win on all surfaces. Now the Russian is hoping that an extra week between the clay and grass court seasons will help her add to her major honours.
But before she can defend her Roland Garros title and look to regain the Wimbledon crown she last won in 2004, the world number three will look to add to her 2011 and 2012 titles here at the Foro Italico, a venue she knows all too well.
“This is the last tournament of my clay court preparation so the main goal is to play as many matches as I can,” she said. “I’d love to win this tournament one more time.
“The last two or three years the clay court season has been really good for me. Coming into Madrid was the beginning of it.
“This year is a bit like groundhog day because you are creating so many memories over the years. This is a very successful part of the year for me. I’m seeing some of the most incredible places in Europe so I’m not complaining about the travel.”
Sharapova has not got beyond the quarter-final in Rome over the last two years but believes all courts are playing differently than they ussed to.
“Tennis evolves and changes,” she said. “All surfaces are playing different to 10 years ago. We have different rackets, everything changes for every player. You have to create different memories.
“You can look at my grass court form in various different ways. Obviously the further you get in tournaments the longer the clay court season is. Sometimes back-to-back I’ve not been able to adjust myself as best as I would wish. But an extra week is healthy, it’s been a real tough transition to change your physical capacity on different surfaces. It’s not just me, it’s many players.”