Sharapova Aims to Bounce Back

APSharapova in Los Angeles in July
SAN DIEGO -- Maria Sharapova hopes her improving fitness will help turn her season around at this week's Acura Classic.

"The past two weeks have been the first time that I've had full practice where I didn't need to see the trainer every day," the world No. 4 told reporters.

The 19-year-old, seeded second in San Diego, has failed to win a tournament since Indian Wells in March.

A twisted ankle before the French Open has hampered her campaign, seeing her exit Roland Garros in the fourth round and lose a hard-fought Wimbledon semi-final to eventual winner Amelie Mauresmo.

"The last time [I was fully fit] was Indian Wells, and that was a good week for me. I've been doing progressively better. I'm excited going into a tournament feeling healthy and playing pretty well," she said. Sharapova, who struggled with a shoulder injury in 2005, feels like she is in much better shape than when she won the 2004 Wimbledon crown, at the age of 17.

"Physically, I've improved a lot," she said. "If you look at my body shape two years ago to now, I never felt like I was ready then. I feel a lot stronger and I experienced a lot more.

"Then, I never had big injuries and now I've learned to deal with the world expecting me to play when I've been injured."

Nearly a month after Wimbledon, Sharapova is still smarting from her defeat to Mauresmo.

"I tactically didn't play smart, especially in the third set when I had the momentum," she said.

"I need to adjust to the situations better. Top players have plans in their pockets and are not one-dimensional. When things were going my way, I stopped and I was brain dead. But that's something that you learn and, hopefully, the next time, it will naturally be there."

Sharapova believes she has matured to the point where she can win another Grand Slam title and take down the more-seasoned players.

"I've done it before and I've been consistently doing well, but it's a matter of doing it better," she said.

Sharapova will play the winner of the match between Vasilisa Bardina and Meng Yuan in her second-round match in San Diego.