What a week it has been for Maria Sharapova who has returned to being the world's No. 1 and completed a career Grand Slam in the span of five days. It's been a long journey back for Sharapova, who won her first Grand Slam at 17 at Wimbledon in 2004.
Sharapova's perseverance in regaining the No. 1 overall ranking embodies the tail of a truly great athlete.
Sharapova now has a new confidence that she can carry through into future majors. She has achieved the impossible such as coming back from major shoulder surgery, including a lengthy rehabilitation phase and dropping in the world rankings. Her rise has been remarkable to say the least and that confidence will carry her a long way in the future.
At 25 years old, Sharapova is now just in the peak of her career. The next five years of her prime will determine her legacy. Armed with her newfound confidence, her ability to overcome her mental lapses, her top fitness and her ability to overcome the odds, Sharapova will be the favorite in many Grand Slams to come.
Everyone is aware of the long-standing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal rivalry, but in the last few years there is another athlete that has dominated men's tennis. Novak Djokovic has managed to fend off his two rivals to become No. 1 player in the world.
When Djokovic was No.3 behind Nadal and Federer, all the focus was away from him. However, since he became No. 1 midway through 2011, he has had the difficult task of defending all the points that he has earned in 2011 and while he has played well, he hasn't been as dominant as the juggernaut that won 43-consecutive matches last year.
Federer was the opponent that put an end to Djokovic's winning streak and now the Swiss star has a chance to put an end to Djokovic's opportunity of achieving a tennis Grand Slam.
Maria Sharapova has advanced to the 2012 French Open Finals after defeating Petra Kvitova and in the process returned to No. 1 in the world. A victory in the Final would give Sharapova, a career Grand Slam at the age of 25 including her 2004 Wimbledon title, the 2006 US Open and the 2008 Australian Open.
Sharapova has many strengths and when she is at her best her forehand, backhand and power serve her well and allow her to completely dominate players. However, at a Grand Slam Final, it is the weaknesses of the player that often determines the outcome.
Sharapova weaknesses are her volleys and her speed moving around. Often her serve can be a weakness or an asset. This variability in her serve largely is based on the state of her mental stamina. With any luck, the thought of a career Grand Slam as well as a world No. 1 ranking should be enough to propel her to focus and channel her mental toughness.
Maria Sharapova stormed into her third semi final of French Open on Wednesday after thrashing Estonia's Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-3 victory over in 74 minutes.
The Russian world No. 2, who was also a semifinalist in 2007 and 2011, will tackle Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova for a place in Saturday's final.
Sharapova, who won Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008, has now made another step closer to complete her career grand slam titles and gain one more win than last year, when she lost to eventual champion Li Na.
If Sharapova makes the final, she would rise to No. 1 in the WTA rankings, overtaking Victoria Azarenka.
Against 23rd-seed Kanepi, Sharapova played much better than she did in her previous match, where she had 12 double-faults and was broken nine times. On another gloomy day both of them exchanged breaks in the first two games before the Russian picked up two more in the third and seventh games. The Estonian saved two set points, but that was not enough against Sharapova, who clinched the next set.
It was just about 300 yards apart on the two main show courts of Roland Garros, where Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic found themselves saving match points at the same time.
Djokovic kept alive his Grand Slam hopes by saving four match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before pulling off a nail-biting 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-1 quarterfinal win.
In the last four Djokovic will play against Roger Federer on Friday, who bounced back from a two-set deficit to beat Juan-Martin del Potro 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3.
Last year in Paris saw the Serb and Swiss stars duel, when Federer ended Djokovic's 43-match winning streak.
Since then, Djokovic has won 26 Grand Slam matches in a row. After his triumphs at Wimbledon and U.S. Open last year, and Australian Open in January, the world No. 1 is bidding to be only the third man, after Rod Laver in 1969, to hold all majors at the same time.
Federer victory over del Potro meant he reached a record-equalling 31st Grand Slam semifinal.