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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2008, 08:10 GMT
Sharapova savours 'sweetest' win
Maria Sharapova
Sharapova will try to complete the Grand Slam set at the French Open
Maria Sharapova said her Australian Open win was the "sweetest" of her career after enduring a difficult 2007.

Sharapova won her third Grand Slam title with a 7-5 6-3 victory over Serbia's Ana Ivanovic.

And the victory also made up for a "depressing" thrashing by Serena Williams in last year's final.

"When I was going through those setbacks I tried to remember what it was like to hold the Wimbledon trophy and the US Open trophy," she said.

"To know that I was capable of doing it before and believe in myself that I'd be capable of doing it again some day."

I don't think I'm at the peak of my career yet

Maria Sharapova

Sharapova slipped down the rankings last year as she struggled with a serious shoulder injury.

The Russian revealed that she had received a text message from legend Billie Jean King before the match, saying: "Champions take chances, and pressure is a privilege."

Sharapova, who was 13 when she first met King, said: "From that point on, she's just always been really supportive.

"She's always one of the first people to text me when either I'm having a tough moment or a great win."

After the match, she received a second text from King that read: "Congratulations. You did great."

And Sharapova is already looking ahead with confidence to adding to her haul of major titles.

"This was probably the toughest draw that I've ever had in a Grand Slam but I'm the champion here," she said.

606: DEBATE

"So if I can get a tough draw and win it - hey, I'd do that any time."

She added: "I know I've already won three Grand Slams but I keep saying that I don't think I'm at the peak of my career yet.

"I don't think my body has developed 100% into its own and I've got many things to learn in my tennis and many things to build and improve."

Ivanovic said she had felt happier than in her debut Grand Slam final at last year's French Open, when she lost heavily to Justine Henin.

"I really felt comfortable out there, I wasn't too nervous at all," the 20-year-old said.

"It hurts a bit now but I am sure I can learn from this. Already I felt better in today's final than in last year's French Open final, so that's good.

I really feel I'm improving my game and I'm learning how to be a top player

Ana Ivanovic

"Of course I am disappointed but I feel I have plenty of Grand Slam finals ahead of me."

And the Serb admitted she had let Sharapova off the hook when she was under pressure late in the first set.

"It's a little bit disappointing because I thought I had a lot of chances in that first set but didn't use them," said the fourth seed.

"But, still, it's a learning experience for me. I fought hard. I just felt a little bit let down with my forehand, made some big mistakes in crucial moments."

Asked if she expected more Grand Slam final encounters with Sharapova in the future, she replied: "I'm almost certain of that.

"We've already had quite a few matches against each other. She's a great competitor. I'm sure she will do well in the future as well.

"I really feel I'm also improving my game and I'm learning how to be a top player. These situations help me.

"So I'm sure we'll have plenty of opportunities to play against each other in the final of a Grand Slam."

SEE ALSO
Aussie Open day 13 photos
26 Jan 08 |  Tennis


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