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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Slow Year Proves Sharapova the Exception

NEW YORK -- The Russian women's revolution of 2004 has slowed to a crawl, even though Maria Sharapova has assumed the No. 1 ranking.

After they dominated last summer by combining to win the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, only one Russian woman -- 2004 Wimbledon champion Sharapova -- has won a title since May, and that was a relatively small one in Birmingham, England.

No Russian woman has reached a Grand Slam final this year, and only Sharapova has reached a semifinal, at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

"It's very difficult to win three Grand Slams again," said world No. 6 Yelena Dementyeva, who reached the French Open and U.S. Open finals last year.

"Life is not that way; it's up and down. But it hasn't been a bad year for Russian players; we've had some good results. It's not over yet."

Last year, Anastasia Myskina won the French Open, Sharapova won Wimbledon and Svetlana Kuznetsova took the U.S. Open.

Even though many of the other top players have been injured, no Russian woman has yet managed to win a U.S. summer hard-court title, despite dominating the seedings at five U.S. Open Series tournaments.

Ninth-ranked Nadia Petrova refuses to accept her country is in a slump. "This year there are other players coming back like Venus, Serena [Williams], Justine [Henin-Hardenne] and Kim Clijsters," she said.

"It's not that wide open for us anymore, but it's still going well. There are still four of us ranked in the top 10."

Sharapova has just reached the coveted No. 1 ranking and has won three titles this year. However, she kicked herself after choking a lead to eventual champion Serena Williams in the Australian Open semifinals.

She has also suffered significant losses to other members of the top 10, including Lindsay Davenport, Clijsters, reigning French Open champion Henin-Hardenne and Wimbledon champion Venus Williams.

The 18-year-old Sharapova has stated a strong desire to win the U.S. Open, but she reinjured her right pectoral muscle in Los Angeles and will have played only two matches after Wimbledon going into the tournament.

"I have never played great at the U.S. Open," said Sharapova who fell to Mary Pierce in round three last year. "But it was a different situation last year.

"Things were too hectic for me, and I couldn't really find myself mentally with all that was going around me.

"Now it's totally different. I've had a whole year of learning, especially against top players."

Defending champion Kuznetsova is in far worse shape than Sharapova. After bullying Dementyeva in last year's U.S. Open final, the muscular 20-year-old was expected to challenge for the top ranking this year.

However, she has been unable to handle the new level of expectation.

"This year, I've wanted to go out and play like the U.S. Open champion," said Kuznetsova, who injured her pectoral muscle in Toronto and is title-less in 2005.

"I put too much pressure on myself and tried to be too good."

 Switzerland's Roger Federer and Sharapova were named as top seeds for next week's U.S. Open on Tuesday after the United States Tennis Association followed the official rankings.

Federer will return to New York as a strong favorite to defend the crown he won last year.