Maria Sharapova fought back hard to win the Madrid title against powerful tennis newcomer Simona Halep 1-6 6-2 6-3. The beginning looked bleak, but Sharapova was triumphant over her stocky, but spry opponent who also had the advantage of being five years younger.
Despite her loss to Sharapova, Halep said she had "an amazing week" in the Spanish capital. "I played really well all week and I beat top layers and I had a very high level of my tennis," she said."Maria is a great player and a great champion. She played really well, and I think she deserved to win this title."
What was her downfall in her opinion?
"The different I think is the experience. She has more experience than me."
Sharapova, a possible contender at the French Open later this month, was out during the second half of last season with a shoulder injury. However, that didn't seem to stop her from giving her best grunts and shrieks to accompany her mighty form and prowess on the court.
After being on the mend for a while she had the vigor of a new appreciation for the game on her side, as well.
"I don't take these moments for granted because I know what it's like to be out and injured and trying to find your way back just to play tennis," she said. "I like the work that I put in and I want to get the opportunities to be in the final."
She added, "So it doesn't matter if I'm playing on the moon or in Madrid, to be in the final position is an honor."
The 27-year-old Sharapova is one of the best-paid athletes around and has found success off the court as well as on. She has her own clothing lines and a company that sells awesome candy called Sugarpova.
But her first love will always be tennis, and now with nine tennis titles, she has joined Venus Williams as the third most successful active player in the sport, one behind Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues and Serena Williams who each have 10.
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