Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova called Maria Sharapova "a special athlete" as the 31-year-old Russian is drawing inspiration from the former five-time Grand Slam champion and looking to improve her game despite being in her thirties now.
Pavlyuchenkova, 31, made her first Grand Slam final at the 2021 French Open before losing to Barbora Krejcikova. After a great 2021 season, Pavlyuchenkova was limited to just three tournaments in 2022 due to a knee injury.
After basically skipping one entire season and returning to action this year, Pavlyuchenkova realized that she is a bit behind the competition. With that being said, former world No 11 Pavlyuchenkova is now looking to make certain improvements and adjustments to her game.
Sharapova was famously struggling a lot on clay early on in her career before drastically improving and winning two French Open titles.
Pavlyuchenkova drawing inspiration from Maria Sharapova
"Maria Sharapova, she's Maria Sharapova.
For me it's just like in tennis or every sport, there are some special athletes who you have, and they will never be replaced or copied or, you know. So she's one of them for me for sure. I think for me I always admired. I was impressed by her fighting spirit and character.
Dealing with -- I still believe all the pressure that she had and the attention, that was amazing. Also obviously that was also inspiring seeing her because she's very tall, so that makes it more difficult I think playing on clay.
Just how she was always fit most of the time when she was playing, especially Grand Slams. You could see she [Maria Sharapova] was trying to adjust and change her game. That's inspiring. Yeah, that's something I'm trying to also do and evolve and keep on because I'm very open," Pavlyuchenkova said, per Sportskeeda. On Monday, Pavlyuchenkova made a winning start to the French Open as the Russian saw off Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2 6-2.
The French Open will be relocated in 2025
Tom Kim leads French Open after first round
Maria Sharapova makes big pickleball announcement
Maria Sharapova poses like Jane Fonda! WATCH
Daria Saville predicts Maria Sharapova's come back on the court
Coach Rick Macci reveals astonishing strength Maria Sharapova had already at 11