Tennis: Rivals Williams and Sharapova to play it cool at WTA 2014

Tennis: Rivals Williams and Sharapova to play it cool at WTA 2014

She spoke about what it would mean to end the year at the summit and about how her four titles this year still has her perched one rung below.

Maria Sharapova also rummaged through her memory bank to talk about her last - and only - win at the season-ending Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour Championships, a decade ago in 2004.

But not once did she mention that name.

Not of the person she bested all those years ago, or the player who is keeping her off the top of the pile. Serena Williams.

That night 10 years ago in Los Angeles was, in fact, the last time Sharapova managed to pull one over Williams.

She lost in the next 15 meetings over a 10-year period, on every type of surface the game is played on: dusty red ones, lush green ones, even on hard courts.

Just maybe, that run will end here, as the top eight women in the world prepare for battle at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, which kicks off at the Singapore Indoor Stadium today.

The Russian may not have mentioned Williams when she met the media yesterday, but the American's considerable shadow loomed large, nevertheless.

"I always feel that the ranking is... not just based on your results, but based on other people's results and accomplishments," said Sharapova.

There was Williams in the background.

"I think my year has been the way that it is. I think the ranking is the way that it is and shows that I'm in the No. 2 position," said Sharapova at WTA's all access media day at Marina Bay Sands' ArtScience Museum yesterday.

Williams again. In the face of the dominant 33-year-old American who some believe is the best woman to pick up a racket, Sharapova has won five Grand Slam crowns, even held the No. 1 spot, but has never truly challenged.

But, after an imperious display in her last tournament in China, many feel Sharapova is the favourite to win here in Singapore, even with Williams in the field.

"Is it an incredible accomplishment? Absolutely. It would be amazing to achieve that (the world No. 1 ranking). I haven't done that in my career, finishing (the) year as No. 1, but I have been in that spot before and been No. 2 before and gotten to No. 1," said Sharapova.

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