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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sharapova in Need of Time to Grow

TOKYO -- A defiant Maria Sharapova denied on Tuesday that she had "hit the wall" after failing to reach the Australian Open final.

The leggy Russian said she needed more time to be a regular Grand Slam winner following a painful defeat by Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne in the Melbourne semifinals last week.

"I don't think I've hit a wall or anything," bristled Sharapova, who has failed to reach a Grand Slam final since winning Wimbledon in 2004.

"You expect me to win a Grand Slam every year now? I think you should give more time."

Sharapova was quick to point out she has reached the semifinals in four of the last five Grand Slams and held the world No. 1 ranking for seven weeks last year.

"At this point in my career, I'm more than happy to be in Grand Slam semifinals," she said before this week's Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

"Just because I won Wimbledon at 17, a lot of people expect you all of a sudden to win every single one. That's not going to take one day or one week.

"I know that in a few years when I do improve little things in my game by 1 or 2 percent that I will get better."

Sharapova, the world No. 4, said her priority this year was to win Wimbledon again, not regain the top ranking. "I would love to win Wimbledon rather than [be No. 1]," she said. "But I'm very happy to be consistently in the semifinals of Grand Slams. I'm not just overnight going to become an experienced player."