Reality better than dream for sharp Sharapova
Russian teen Maria Sharapova had been touted as the new Anna Kournikova when she arrived at Wimbledon ? but she could turn out to be someone even better.india Updated: Jun 27, 2003 09:51 IST
Russian teen Maria Sharapova had been touted as the new Anna Kournikova when she arrived at Wimbledon - but she could turn out to be even better than the real thing on the evidence of her performances so far.
Dubbed the "queen of scream" for her grunting, Sharapova, now based at Bradenton, Florida, has much to live up to yet if she is to emulate Kournikova's 1997 debut run to the semi-finals.
But she is well on her way after hammering 21st-seeded compatriot Elena Bovina 6-3, 6-1 to coast into the last 32 on Thursday.
And the fresh-faced teen was keen to show just how firmly her feet are on the ground after sending her older rival packing in style as she moved onto a mouth-watering meeting with 11th seed Jelena Dokic of Serbia and Montenegro.
"I don't think it's a dream. This is reality. I just played really well," said Sharapova, perfectly at ease in facing the media afterwards.
"When you play really well good things can happen. This is not dream land - it's reality and I'm in reality.
"I love coming here," said Sharapova, who had previously only experienced the All England Club as a junior.
She said she would not be overawed by facing the experienced Dokic.
"I'll just go out and play my game. That's what I do best."
Sharapova added that there was no feeling of Kournikova's glamorous shadow hanging over her.
"I never had a role medal when I was little. Everyone was really surprised because many little kids did have a role model.
"I never had a role model in my life, never.
"I just started playing, hitting against the wall.
"As the years went on, you know, it became a little bit more than just hitting against the wall."
Sharapova came here after reaching the semi-finals in a warm-up event in Birmingham - and says this week she has made further progress.
"I've definitely improved, since Birmingham, definitely.
Sharapova says she accepts that she will have to make sacrifices to take the next step.
"There are times when you think 'I don't really want to do this today'.
"But there are times when you really have to push yourself because you know that this is what it takes to be a champion one day.
"When I step on the court I think 'this is Wimbledon. This is like a dream that many little kids have'."
Except that for her, it is already reality.