Cool Hand Sharapova Reveals Her Secret Weapon; the Russian Star Rose to Become World No1 Using Her Weaker Right Arm and Could Revert to Her Stronger Left at Any Time. Chris Jones Reports from Melbourne

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Byline: CHRIS JONES

MARIA SHARAPOVA revelled in the heat today and then revealed that she won the Wimbledon title and became world No1 using her weaker arm.

According to the Russian star she could switch to being a lefthander at any time during a match if the mood took her.

Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, had to make up her mind about which arm would bring her most success in tennis while training at the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida, where she was sent as a nine-year-old by her parents.

After setting up a potential fourthround clash with Australian Open titleholder Serena Williams by disposing of Croatia's Jelena Kostanic 6-0, 6-1 in 68 minutes, Sharapova explained: "I am naturally a lefty, so I do practise it once in a while just to kind of balance it off.

"When I was 10 or 11, I played lefthanded for about a year and then I played a little bit with both hands.

That lasted for a few months, then I went back to being a righty.

"But I still do a lot of things lefty and while I write with my right hand, I throw and I kick with my left foot and my left hand. When I was younger, I played a little bit more lefty and there was actually a point when I didn't know if I was going to play left or right or both hands.

"If I feel comfortable enough to hit a lefty and I feel I am in the right position on court to do it, then yes, I am confident that I can make it."

Those ambidextrous abilities were put on show against Kostanic, with Sharapova choosing to hit a ball lefthanded and then immediately switching to right-handed for the next shot in the rally.

There have been other tennis players with similar abilities although no one in recent years has been good enough to consistently use it in tournament tennis.

Russian Yevgeniya Kulikovskaya made the second round of the French Open in 2003 playing forehand shots off both sides but has since disappeared from the rankings.

French Open champion Rafael Nadal is naturally right-handed but was convinced to choose a career playing with his left. …