Reuters

"Queen of Clay" Petrova ready

"Queen of Clay" Petrova ready
By Eurosport

24/05/2006 at 07:20Updated

With the Grand Slam action kicking off on Sunday, eurosport.com takes a closer look at this year's 'Queen of Clay' Nadia Petrova. The world number three is sure to be a serious contender for the French Open title, having already won three clay tournaments

In April the Russian won Amelia Island and Charleston in the USA, and just two weeks ago she again impressed tennis fans in Berlin when she came back from a set down in the final to beat reigning Roland Garros champion Justine Henin-Hardenne (4-6 6-4 7-5).

Those three victories proved that Petrova's career is on the up, and at pace.

The Russian played solidly all season long during 2005, and her performances last year have proved to be the basis for her success this season.

In 2005, she reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, the semi finals at the French Open and the quarter finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.

The 23-year-old also won her first ever WTA title in Linz. She ended the year number nine and has now successfully played her way to number three in the WTA rankings.

PETROVA: "WANT TO IMPROVE"

Semi final appearances in 2003 and 2005 remain Petrova's best results at Roland Garros and as for her chances this year, the Muscovite - whilst remaining guarded on her chances - feels she is heading to Paris in good form.

"I have been playing really well this year, especially in the USA, but the circumstances were slightly different there compared to Paris. And I still want to keep improving my game. I want to become faster, fitter, more powerful and improve my strokes," she told Eurosport in Berlin.

The third seed in Paris is excited about her high seeding. "This is the first time I am seeded so high and I am very excited about the French Open. I am keen to start playing. I want to keep the rhythm going."

And kept her rhythm going she has, winning 33 of her singles matches this year making her the record holder for 'most matches won' in 2006 so far. The key to her success? A different approach to the game.

"I started playing better because my personality changed a lot. I am much calmer on court now; I feel more relaxed and focused. I also enjoy myself on court more too, no matter the outcome."

Follow all the action from Roland Garros right here LIVE on eurosport.com from Sunday!

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