Maria Sharapova's pursuit of a second Grand Slam title keeps stalling in the semifinals.
Since bursting onto the scene at 17 by winning Wimbledon in 2004, she's accumulated millions of dollars in endorsement deals, briefly reached No. 1 in the rankings, and come oh-so-close over and over again to claiming another major trophy.
Sharapova will play in her seventh semifinal in the last 10 Grand Slam tournaments on Friday at the U.S. Open, facing top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo. No. 2 Justine Henin-Hardenne faces No. 19 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia for the other spot in the final.
With so much attention from spectators and sponsors, one might think Sharapova would feel pressure to produce a follow-up triumph, reports AP.
Not one bit, it turns out.
"It's not easy to win your first one. I was very surprised that I did at the age that I was. I did not feel that I was physically or mentally ready for it," she said.
"But it takes a lot of hard work, and I think everything has to come together: Your game, how you feel physically, and maybe a little bit of luck once in a while. I've come very close the last few times, but I've got many more years to win my second one."
Sharapova and Mauresmo practiced on adjacent courts on Thursday. Mauresmo briefly chatted with fans in French while autographing hats and shirts as she left. A larger crowd gathered around to watch Sharapova and she signed about a dozen items without saying a word or looking up.
Since her out-of-nowhere breakthrough at the All England Club, Sharapova is winless in five major semifinals, including losses this year to Henin-Hardenne at the Australian Open and Mauresmo at Wimbledon.