Sharapova shows mental toughness

Maria Sharapova is confident she is “100% strong mentally” as she looks to reclaim the Wimbledon crown.

Maria Sharapova is confident she is “100% strong mentally” as she looks to reclaim the Wimbledon crown.

The 2004 champion suffered a semi-final defeat to Venus Williams last year, ending a 22-match winning streak on grass.

The world number four returned to the surface yesterday for the first time since that loss, beating American qualifier Ahsha Rolle 6-4 6-2 in a second-round tie of the DFS Classic at Edgbaston.

It was hardly the most convincing of performances from the two-time defending champion, but for Sharapova it is a case of getting in as many matches as possible before heading to the All England Club.

While practice makes perfect, mentally she is attuned, with the 19-year-old Russian stating: “Tennis is such a mental game, and going into Wimbledon I feel I am 100% strong mentally.

“It’s one of my big strengths that I am mentally tougher than a lot of girls on the tour. I don’t give up, even when I am down, whatever the score. I feel I have to give it all I have and take the chances.”

Sharapova insists such a facet of her character has not happened by accident, adding: “It’s hard to teach someone that.

“A lot of things in my life have not dropped in my lap. My parents and I have had to work for a lot of the things we have now.

“I grew up really fast when I was training alone at the academy in Florida, but then I really didn’t have a lot of choice. My parents made me realise you have to work hard to earn things.”

Sharapova will play 13th seed Na Li of China in today’s third round in which seven of the top eight seeds compete, with the only absentee being Daniela Hantuchova who withdrew before the start with a wrist injury.

Sharapova feels she can only improve as the tournament progresses as she said: “It’s just a matter of getting the matches under my belt.

“It was at least good to be back on grass again. As the match went on I started to feel better about my game.

“It takes a few days to get used to things, but as you do you gain in confidence. So I know there’s far more to come. I’m looking forward to raising my game, which is what you try to do at every tournament.”

Unsurprisingly, there is no British interest at this stage, with that coming to an end following defeats for Anna Keothavong and Sarah Borwell.

British number one Keothavong was beaten 6-3 6-0 in 57 minutes in her first-round match against Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, winning just eight points in the second set.

Number four Borwell suffered a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) defeat to American Jamea Jackson in a second-round tie, but not without chances to have at least taken the match to a final set.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox