Sharapova aiming for rare double at Key Biscayne
After a year of closed-door meetings with tennis play-ers seeking a greater say in the sport and a larger slice of Grand Slam revenues, the US Open is ready to make big changes.
The New York-based tourna-ment plans to increase its annual prize money to $50 mil-lion by 2017 - roughly double what it was last year - and permanently schedule the men's semi-finals on Friday and men's final on a Sunday as of 2015, The Associated Press has learned.
"Roger Federer said it perhaps best of all: It's time for us to work together, as opposed to working against each other," U.S. Tennis Association Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Gor-don Smith said in a telephone interview.
As part of an unprecedented five-year agreement with the men's and women's professional tours, the USTA also is mak-ing an additional $4.1 million increase to this year's prize pool, on top of a $4 mil- lion jump announced in December. That brings the 2013 total payout to $33.6 million from the $25.5 mil-lion in 2012.
The USTA planned to announce the changes on Wednesday, a day after they were formally pre-sented to the "These tournaments are always really tough because they're close together," the No. 3-seeded Sharapova said.
"As soon as you're done with the first one (Indian Wells) you're onto the next one and you're here.
I'm looking forward to trying to take it a step further (here) this year."
Sharapova came close to achieving the back-to-back victories in 2006, winning the Indian Wells tournament and reaching the final at Key Biscayne.
Overall, she's been in four Sony Open finals, including last year when she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.
For Sharapova, who moved to the United States from Russia as a 9-year-old, the Sony Open is the event where she first watched professional tennis.
"I have a lot of history here," Sharapova said. Miami "is the city where I first landed when I came to the United States.
I've been a fan of this tournament since I was young because I came here with my family to watch it.
"And then I was able to play in it and be a part of it and I've been to three or four finals here. So, hopefully, I can lift the trophy here one day."
There were 10 main draw women's matches played on Tuesday.
Veteran Japanese player Kimiko Date-Krumm beat Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 6-2, 6-0. Two former top 10 players - Flavia Pennetta of Italy and Andrea Petkovic of Germany - were in action. Pennetta won her firstround match 6-4, 6-1 over Johanna Larsson of Sweden.
Petkovic, playing in only her second tournament of the year following a knee injury at the Hopman Cup in January, defeated Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia 6-3, 6-1.