Sharapova's not daddy's girl anymore
By Dave James
PARIS (AFP) — The Maria Sharapova story: Part two, is missing one of its leading men from the fairytale's first chapter - father Yuri.
But the Russian star is getting used to not having the man around despite him famously accompanying her on her life-changing journey to Florida, and eventual super-stardom, when she was only nine.
"After I won my third Grand Slam, he said, 'Look, I like hiking and skiing a lot, and he wanted to pursue that," said Sharapova.
"So he's currently enjoying his life, and I think he really deserves it. He was training with us in Florida and Los Angeles in the last couple of months when I was getting back and practicing a lot and playing matches.
"But I don't think you'll see him at too many tournaments. It's not so strange as most of last year he didn't come to a majority of the events."
Yuri Sharapov has ceded coaching duties to former tour player Michael Joyce who has worked constantly with the Russian to get her back on tour after her agonising 10-month lay-off, recovering from shoulder surgery.
All that work paid dividends on Wednesday when the former world number one battled for over two hours to see off compatriot Nadia Petrova 6-2, 1-6, 8-6 to reach the French Open last 32.
Sharapova, who came into Paris with her ranking at 102, said she used her absence from the tour as a motivation to increase her workload and that watching from the sidelines proved to be the impetus she needed, even if it meant training at strange hours of the day.
"At the beginning of the year it actually motivated me more than anything. I'd be in my hotel room in Phoenix and it would be like 11:00 p.m. and I'd watch a match and I'd be so motivated from the girls playing I'd go to the gym," she said.
"It would be dark outside and I'd ask them to open the gym so I could work out."
Sharapova has now played two three-set matches at Roland Garros as she steps up her push to win the only Grand Slam title she has never won with a semi-final run in 2007 her best performance.
The next round should, in theory, be a slightly easier afternoon's work with Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova her opponent before a potential quarter-final clash with Venus Williams further down the line.
"I think these types of matches are really important for me and for my game," explained Sharapova.
"Obviously I'm spending a little bit more time out there than I want to, but I think I'm learning so many new things, as well.
"When you haven't played for such a long time, when you get back out there, and you're put in these situations, many things come back to you.
"I think this was a great match where I had to fight my way through many, many challenges, and I did."
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Edited by desperate for housewives, 27 May 2009 - 22:25.