x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

A long haul for Sharapova

Late night finishes in her quarter-final and semi-final took their toll on Maria Sharapova when it came to lifting herself for the final of the Rogers Cup against fellow Russian Elena Dementieva.

Late night finishes in her quarter-final and semi- final took their toll on Maria Sharapova when it came to lifting herself for the final of the Rogers Cup against fellow Russian Elena Dementieva. The former world No 1 eventually ran out of steam in succumbing 6-4, 6-3. The Toronto final marked the end of a difficult year for Sharapova, 22, who was forced to withdraw from the event when it was staged in Montreal 12 months ago with the first signs of the chronic shoulder problems which kept her off court for nearly 10 months.

She still has some way to go to return to the level she was at, but little by little she is getting there. Once she feels she no longer has to protect her serving arm, there will be no reason she cannot improve on her tally of 19 titles, including three grand slams. Sharapova's efforts over the last few weeks have restored her ranking to 32nd in the world, guaranteeing her a seeding next week for the US Open, which she won in 2006.

It was Sharapova's first appearance in a WTA Tour final since April 2008 and she expressed satisfaction with her progress. "This time last year I got the news that I would be out of the game for a while," she said. "Now a year later, I'm at this stage, with this little trophy, but still here." The main trophy went to a delighted Dementieva who reaped deserved rewards for overcoming the formidable Serena Williams in the semi-finals. "I've tried for so many years to win this one and now I've made it," she said.

The Rogers Cup, which alternates between Montreal and Toronto, has become a key pointer to the US Open. The last three to win in Toronto - Justine Henin in 2003, Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Henin again in 2007 - went on to triumph at Flushing Meadows.