Sharapova's renaissance good for tennis

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates defeating Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in their...

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates defeating Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in their quarter-final match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London June 28, 2011. (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)

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, Last Updated: 12:34 PM ET

TORONTO - Maria Sharapova's 2011 has been very successful and she has kept the good times going by steamrolling her way into the Wimbledon semifinals.

The 24-year-old hasn't dropped a single set at the All-England Club and she basically has been tested only once during the tournament - the first set of her second-round match against wild-card entrant Laura Robson, who took the Russian native to a tiebreak.

Sharapova's upcoming match against Sabine Lisicki will mark her second consecutive semifinal appearance in a Grand Slam and speaks to what now appears to be a career revival.

During the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Sharapova dropped out of the Top 10 and didn't look anything like the No. 1-ranked player that she had been. A lot of her troubles in 2009 had to do with an injury that she suffered in October 2008 that needed surgery and time to rehabilitate. But she still made it to the quarterfinals of the French Open that year and even managed to win a tournament.

But 2010 was an unmitigated disaster, by her standards, as she failed to make it past the fourth round in all four Grand Slams, including getting knocked out in her opening-round match of the Australian Open. To make matters worse, all of her problems didn't seem to have much to do with her previous injury but, instead, were more mental.

Flash forward to this year, however, and, from her impressive results, it appears she's back to being the dominant player she once was. It's not really known what was bothering her, but it appears that some extra coaching advice was just what the doctor ordered.

At the end of 2010, Sharapova hired Swede Thomas Hogstedt as a co-coach to work with her longtime existing coach and hitting partner, Michael Joyce.

The idea to bring in an extra pair of eyes was Joyce's idea and the pair worked hard to have her focus on small improvements to her game to keep her confidence up rather than focusing solely on the results - one of the factors that reportedly had her downtrodden for much of 2010.

With this renewed confidence and a draw that's now left without any of the top four-ranked competitors in the world, the current No. 6-ranked player definitely has a great chance to take home her second Wimbledon title and perhaps make a run at reclaiming the No. 1 spot again as the year progresses.

Women's tennis is wide open at the moment and it's mainly because the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, are just shadows of what they used to be, the current No. 1 in Caroline Wozniacki is a player who just can't get over the hump to win a Slam, and the top 10 seems like it changes every day.

The WTA needs a star to emerge and the timing couldn't be more perfect for Sharapova to be going through a renaissance in her career and potentially become that dominant figure again.


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