TIANJIN (China) • Maria Sharapova is looking for a strong finish to a season that began with a doping ban and hit a high at the Tianjin Open on Sunday when she won her first title in more than two years.
The former world No. 1, who returned from the 15-month ban in April, said she was looking forward to building on the success this week in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup, a tennis tournament she has not competed in since 2007.
"Obviously coming there with the title already means a lot, but I do really want to finish strong," said the Russian, who accepted a wild card for the event. "I don't remember the last time that I played three events in a row. But I will give it everything I have got and I know I have so many amazing fans there."
The five-time Grand Slam champion said the Tianjin title, the 36th of her career, was special.
"It has been a couple of years since I have held the winner's trophy. It is a great feeling," said Sharapova, who rose 29 places to 57th in the latest WTA list. "When you start all the way from the beginning of the tournament and then you end up playing the final in a full stadium with so much enthusiasm and energy and you are the one that wins the last point, just everything falls into place.
"You have to appreciate those moments, never take them for granted."
Sharapova takes on Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova in the opening round in Moscow today.
The Russian is not the only player who is hoping to build on momentum and end the season on a high.
Men's world No. 2 Roger Federer is eyeing a seventh ATP Finals crown and has not ruled out pinching the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal if he maintains the form that won him his second Shanghai Masters trophy on Sunday.
The 19-time Grand Slam winner claimed his 94th title and sixth this year with an emphatic 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Nadal in the Shanghai final and is hungry for a first ATP Finals win since 2011.
"London is my priority now and I really want to win the World Tour Finals," the evergreen 36-year-old told Sky Sports. "Finishing the year as No. 1 is a long shot, and I don't think it will happen but if I play like this, who knows? Maybe I will get close again."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE