Miami - Three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is tough enough for the top players in women's tennis, but now the Russian beauty is about to be joined by another Sharapova, her 16-year-old cousin.
Dasha Sharapova, who has been fine tuning her tennis talents at Florida's IMG Bollettieri Academy, has been announced in the field of the Sarasota Open, a 16-player event to be played April 14-22 on the US developmental circuit.
"(Dasha) began playing at the age of five and moved to America from Russia when she was nine," Sarasota Open spokeswoman Sandra Rios said.
"Notwithstanding the cultural changes of such a move, Dasha found the most significant change was the increased amount of tennis she plays."
The younger Sharapova says her role model is her cousin Maria, currently ranked world No 2 and coming off a runner-up showing at Indian Wells as she plays in the WTA and ATP hardcourt event in Miami that runs through next week.