Russian superstar Maria Sharapova arrived in Brisbane, ready to begin the new season in perfect fashion. The world No. 4 has been nursing a shoulder injury since the US Open and finally felt prepared to return to the tour, after months of recovery and practice. The strong off-season means that Sharapova will begin her year with the confidence required to regain her spot amongst the top 3 players on the WTA tour.
“I feel like I’ve had a really good off season, I started way ahead of schedule – I started practice when the last tournament was on for the girls – it’s just really fun for me to be back on court because I’ve really missed it,” said Sharapova. “I gave it enough time to recover and get better, that was extremely important for me that’s why I had to miss a big chunk of the end of the season but in order to come here feeling strong I had to do that.”
Apart from her training, Sharapova had also gone through several coaching changes over the past few months. After hiring high-profile coach Jimmy Connors, the short-lived partnership was quickly terminated before the Russian even returned to the courts. She would soon hire Sven Groeneveld, who had worked the likes of Monica Seles, Mary Pierce, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki.
The reason behind the coaching shift is that Maria is interested in gaining a new “perspective” on her game, believing that at this stage of her career, she needs a coach that would be capable of improving her by “only a few percentages.”
“I think new people give a new perspective on things,” said Sharapova. “When you’re at a certain level in your career there’s only a few percentages that can change a lot of things and we’ve had a lot of fun in the last couple of months – we’ve done great work and this is going to be a long year but I’m looking forward to it.”
Days away from her anticipated comeback, Sharapova has high expectations for herself, including some improvements in Grand Slam tournaments. The 26-year-old believes that she still have much left to offer to the sport of tennis.
“I think there’s a lot more to do in the Grand Slams, but events like these are quite important because they are the lead up to the big ones that you want to capture. I love this game and I’ve achieved a lot but I feel that I have a lot left in me and that’s why I get up and go practice.”