Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sharapova fit and ready for Open

Updated January 11, 2013 19:26:16

Maria Sharapova's quest for a second Australian Open title was strengthened on Friday as she received a favourable draw and declared herself fully recovered from injury.

The Russian world number two withdrew from last week's Brisbane International to rest her injured right collarbone that had prevented her serving and hitting overheads in practise.

But the 25-year-old, chasing a fifth grand slam title, says the precautionary move has paid off and she will be heading into the tournament well prepared.

"I'm feeling really good and ready to go and healthy," Sharapova said.

"I didn't have enough time to prepare for Brisbane - I've had a few extra days. It's been nice to get to Melbourne early."

Sharapova was the big winner in Friday's draw as her two major rivals, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams, landed together in the top half of the draw.

The Russian, runner-up to Azarenka last year, will meet countrywoman Olga Puchkova in the opening round.

She shares the bottom half with number four Agnieszka Radwanska, number five Angelique Kerber and number six 6 Li Na and could meet Venus Williams in the third round, but insists she is not concerned.

"I don't pay attention too much to the draws because we could face anyone from the first round to the finals and you have to be ready to face that opponent," said Sharapova, who could also meet Australian ninth seed Samantha Stosur in the semi-finals.

The draw set up the exciting prospect of a semi-final match-up between defending champion Azarenka and title favourite Serena Williams.

Azarenka has lost 11 of her 12 matches against Williams, who increased her career haul to 15 major singles titles last year by winning at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Williams has won five Australian titles, more than any other woman in the Open era, and is in dominant form after winning 35 of her past 36 matches.

Azarenka has a first-round match against Romania's Monica Niculescu and is in the same quarter as former number one-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and seventh-seeded Sara Errani.

Williams will play Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania first up and is in the same quarter as 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens, who is seeded 29th.


Tags: australian-open, tennis, sport, melbourne-3000

First posted January 11, 2013 19:23:28

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