Maria Sharapova’s US Open campaign came to an abrupt end and she admitted that she needs to put more hours in at the gym.
The Russian lost 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 to Kim Clijsters in the semi-finals and while her shot-making abilities were a match for the Belgian she was distinctly second-best in terms of pure athleticism and fitness.
Sharapova made her big breakthrough when she won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old last summer, but since then she has failed to reach another Grand Slam final in five attempts.
It’s all asking a bit too much too soon she said as she tried to absorb the Clijsters loss.
“Physically when the points were getting longer it was at Kim’s advantage,” she said.
“I still have to get a lot better physically if I am going to play these three-setters when the points go on and on.
“This is not something that is going to happen overnight. I’m only 18 and this is going to take time. My body is still growing and still adjusting.”
Sharapova did prove once again however that she is a fighter, saving five match points in the second set and taking the tournament favourite Clijsters into a decider.
And she will again be world No.1 at the end of the championships, switching positions again with long-time top dog Lindsay Davenport.
After that she says that she is willing to buckle down and do what it takes to stay at the top.
“To be No.1 at 18 is a pretty amazing achievement so I don’t know what’s so bitter about that,” she said.
“But it takes a lot of work, and I’m willing to go back on to the practice court and in the gym. Whatever I need to do and work harder to win the Grand Slams.”