NEW YORK (AP) — A year ago at this time, Maria Sharapova was sitting out the U.S. Open, getting checked by doctors and having tests on the surgically repaired right shoulder that has troubled her off and on.
On Wednesday, Sharapova found herself down by a set and facing a break point early in the second at Flushing Meadows, bothered by the whipping wind, her own off-target strokes and an opponent who wasn’t backing down.
As dusk fell and the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights came on, Sharapova came through the way she so often does in the crucible of a third set, beating 95th-ranked Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the tournament.
Sharapova won in part because of her big shots, yes, but also because she had more in the tank when it mattered.
“Overall I felt like in the end I was in much better shape than she was, and I could have played another few sets,” Sharapova said. “Mentally that helped me a lot.”
It helped that Dulgheru had played one set over the past five weeks because of inflammation in her right wrist, which was operated on in May 2013 and flared up recently.
Dulgheru, though, pointed to Sharapova’s grit as a key factor, too.