Licked Sharapova ready for ice cream after slam exit

NEW YORK Fri Sep 7, 2012 10:07pm EDT

Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their women's semifinals match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 7, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their women's semifinals match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova was frustrated by her three-set defeat to world number one Victoria Azarenka in Friday's U.S. Open semi-final, but the Russian preferred to look on the bright side.

"I'm looking forward to checking out the ice cream truck that's around the corner from my hotel," she said after her grand slam campaign ended one hurdle short of the final in a 3-6 6-2 6-4 loss.

"It's been haunting me."

Sharapova dominated many of the statistical categories in the two-hour 42-minute match, blasting 44 winners to just 19 for Azarenka and ripping eight aces to none for the Belarusian.

However, she neutralized those numbers with 42 unforced errors compared to Azarenka's 19, while committing 10 double-faults.

The third-seeded Russian put her defeat down to her failure to take opportunities and a weaker return of serve, especially in the deciding set.

"In the third I think a lot of it had to do with the returns. I didn't do much on her service games. She was winning them pretty easy. On mine they were quite long and just making too many errors not putting any pressure on her," Sharapova said.

"So that's the most frustrating part."

Looking back on her year, 25-year-old Sharapova saw only positives, having won the French Open to complete a career grand slam and taken silver at the London Olympics.

"I'll take the results I had this year," she said of a season which also included a runner-up finish at the Australian Open, and returning to the world number one spot for four weeks after her Roland Garros triumph.

"When I do think about it, I'm so lucky that I get to play this sport, that I love playing it still, and that I feel like I have a lot in me.

"I'm number three in the world right now and was back at number one, winning grand slams again, so it's certainty a great feeling."

And then there was the delayed reward to treat herself to after leaving the National Tennis Center.

"Vanilla with rainbow sprinkles," she said with a wistful sigh when asked what she would be ordering.

(Editing by Ian Ransom)

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