Monday, 18 March 2013 09:28
INDIAN WELLS: Maria Sharapova, her first title of 2013 safely under her belt, looks poised to join the battle for the world number one spot in women's tennis, but her real appetite is for Grand Slam glory.
The Russian completed a career Grand Slam with her French Open triumph last year, when she also briefly returned to the top of the rankings for the first time since 2008.
Her run to Sunday's Indian Wells final ensured she'll supplant Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka as No. 2 in the world behind American Serena Williams.
"Number one is a great number," Sharapova said. "Is it something that all of us want? Absolutely. No doubt. It's a no-brainer question.
"But I think at this point in my career, titles and Grand Slams are just a bigger priority."
After her French Open victory last year, Sharapova was ousted in the fourth round at Wimbledon, and she lost in the semi-finals at the US Open.
She fell in the semis again at the Australian Open in January to China's Li Na.
She acknowledged that there were elements in the game of several key rivals -- Williams, Azarenka and Li -- that can give her problems.
"Serena was very dominant last year," she said. "She played tremendous, confident tennis. She's also very strong and very athletic, so you need to be consistent with her. She's also a great front-runner."
As for Li, she said, her defeat in Melbourne only made her eager for a rematch.
"You look forward to that next opportunity that you can play against her," she said.
Sharapova's 6-2, 6-2 victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the title match gave her a second Indian Wells WTA crown, to go with the one she captured in 2006.
"I don't think I have gray hairs yet," she quipped when asked to compare the victories.
"As the years go by, I'm just still very lucky that I'm here and that I'm still doing it and that I still love it and have the passion to do it."Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013