Maria Sharapova took ‘a step in the right direction’ at Italian Open

She may have fallen short of reaching the final, but Maria Sharapova certainly took “a step in the right direction” at the Italian Open.

After reaching the third round of the Australian Open at the start of the year, Sharapova suffered three consecutive first-round losses and arrived in Madrid last week low on confidence.

However, she reached the quarter-final in the Spanish capital and then carried that form over to Rome asshe made it to the semi-finals only to go down in three sets to Simona Halep.

With the French Open starting next week, the Russian feels she can take plenty of positives from the past week.

“I think there are a lot of good things that I can take away from a week like this,” she said. “Setting myself up with good opportunities. I think I was put in a lot of difficult situations within the matches. A lot of the matches were very physical.

“And considering it’s been a third tournament in weeks, I haven’t handled that very well body-wise in a long time. I think that’s a very good thing personally for me.

“It’ll be great to recover the next couple of days and then head to Paris and get ready. But overall, I would say it’s a step in the right direction toward the next one.”