This content was published 8 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali d’Italia.
Maria Sharapova admits she loves the clay court season now despite dreading playing on the red surface five years ago. The Russian is safely through to the semi-finals in Rome after a convincing 63 62 win over Victoria Azarekna.
Other than difficulty with her first serve – with a 45 per cent rate – this was a straightforward evening for the Russian with 24 winners.
“We’re both very aggressive players and I thought I did a good job of opening up the court and moving her around. I took my break points when I had to,” said Sharapova. “I did not serve well on my first serve but some good second serves got me out of trouble.
“My rhythm on the serve was off a bit and I should have served a bit smarter.
“I think five or six years ago I was afraid to open the front door on the clay court season. It’s definitely much more welcoming now. That’s a good feeling.
“After Miami I put the hard court shoes away and actually look forward to the first two practices on clay as they are hilarious. It should be an open training session and put on a live feed as it is hilarious. Others are more natural but I really enjoy it.”
Sharapova now takes on qualifier Daria Gavrilova in Saturday’s semi-final, a player she lost to in Miami.
“She’s been pretty solid and playing great tennis,” added Sharapova. “To get to the semi-finals is no cakewalk. She’s a good enough player to take advantage of your bad days.”