Australian Open 2012: Azarenka was just better, admits Sharapova
Maria Sharapova lavished Victoria Azarenka with praise after the 22-year-old stormed to her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne
Maria Sharapova hailed Victoria Azarenka’s performance after the Belarusian claimed her first Grand Slam title with a crushing 6-3 6-0 victory in the Australian Open final.
Sharapova was beaten in straight sets in a blistering one hour and 22 minutes by Azarenka, who was the runner-up at the 2011 WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul.
And the beaten Russian was quick to praise Azarenka’s commanding display. “She did everything better than I did today,” said Sharapova. “I had a good first couple of games, and that was about it.
“Then she was the one that was taking the first ball and hitting it deep and aggressive. I was always the one running around like a rabbit, you know, trying to play catch-up all the time.
“It was her first Grand Slam final, but she certainly has been in big tournaments. She’s won big events before.
“It’s not that she’s coming in here as an unexperienced player. She’s beaten a lot of top players in her career, and it hasn’t happened that she hasn’t been in a Grand Slam final and hasn’t won that.
“But I certainly knew that she had the experience. She beat me in Miami last year. It’s a pretty big event for us. She was in the finals of the Championships. She does have that experience.”
Azarenka’s victory marked Sharapova’s third Major final defeat after the world No3 lost to Petra Kvitová in the Wimbledon final last year.
But the 24-year-old insists she will bounce back from the defeat. “It’s frustrating, but I have a pretty good head on my shoulders in terms of having a good perspective on sport and life,” said Sharapova.
“And as hard as it is, and as much as you want to be the champion, there’s only one. That’s why the feeling is so special when you do achieve that.
“That’s why the work is so hard and extreme. That’s why the pleasure that you get and the excitement is what you work for, because you know how special it is.
“I don’t regret the work that I put in at all. Getting to the stage is great for me, especially not having played matches for three months. I honestly didn’t know what to expect health‑wise and game‑wise. You just don’t know.
“So to be at this stage is good for me. That’s why I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”