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Sharapova delighted despite defeat

Sharapova said she was delighted with her season despite seeing it ended in the WTA Championships semi-finals.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2006 08:31 IST

Russian pin-up Maria Sharapova said she was delighted with her season despite seeing it ended in the WTA Championships semi-finals here against Justine Henin-Hardenne.

That defeat also meant the US Open champion missed out on the chance to end the season as the world number one, a position that will be held by her conqueror when the end-of-year rankings are published next week.

But having matched her best season in winning five titles, including a Grand Slam, and having doubled her career prize money, Sharapova is understandably pleased with the way this season progressed, even if her last match was a disappointment, losing 6-2, 7-6 (7/5).

"I had a bad day. I struggled to concentrate for more than two points at a time. I don't know why," said the Russian.

"I was a bit tired but I don't think that was decisive. It was just one of those days."

Sharapova even shrugged off the disappointment of missing out on the rankings top spot and paid tribute to the Belgian.

"Not being number one is not really a disappointment. I'm disappointed I lost, that's all.

"Justine deserves to finish the season as number one. She was a finalist in all the Grand Slams, she was very consistent.

"I've had a fantastic year. I'm really pleased with the way I played these last few weeks. I hope to continue like that in 2007."

Sharapova was on a 19-match winning run before Henin-Hardenne ended it, and won three titles during that spell, including the US Open.

But she came up short in her quest to regain the WTA Championships crown she won in 2004, despite looking the form player in the group matches.

While Sharapova is looking forward to bigger and better things in the future, Belgium's Kim Clijsters is starting to think about her life away from the game.

After losing her epic semi-final to Amelie Mauresmo on Saturday, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, Clijsters repeated her desire to retire at the end of next season.

Injuries, particularly to her wrist, have taken their toll on the 23-year-old.

"I enjoyed playing tennis this week but it's been a very frustrating year," said Clijsters.

"And there were definitely days and weeks even where I wanted to stop (my career) already.

"Never say never but I'm going to stop after next season. This is something that I've thought abbout for a long time.

"It's been hard. My wrist will always be the weakest part of my body. I'll be very happy to not have to do all that other stuff anymore.

"I would love to start a family. There's lot of things I want to do. I enjoy working with kids. We'll see."

In April Clijsters, who was once engaged to Australian tennis star Lleyton Hewitt, announced her engagement to American basketball player Brian Lynch.