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Sharapova saves set points — against Aussie boy

Russian lacking match practice ahead of Australian Open due to injury

Gulf News

Melbourne: Maria Sharapova on Saturday revealed how she had been taking out her frustrations on Australian boys after injury curtailed her build-up to the Australian Open.

The former winner, and last year’s runner-up, goes into the season’s opening Grand Slam without any competitive matches under her belt after a collarbone problem ruled her out of this month’s Brisbane International.

Sharapova, who said she is now fully recovered, revealed that she had resorted to practising with Australia’s top junior players to find match sharpness — with interesting results.

“One of them was really on top of me and then I got really mad,” she told reporters.

“I think he had eight set points and I ended up winning the set. I’m not going to tell who it is. Too embarrassed. I don’t think he slept well after that one.”

However, the world number two said she could play her way into the season’s opening Grand Slam, starting against fellow blonde Russian Olga Puchkova, ranked 105.

“I would have loved to come in with a few matches. But sometimes circumstances don’t allow that, and that’s okay,” she said. “To me, I’d rather be going onto the court knowing that I’m healthy.

“Yes, I might be a little bit rusty, but I’ll work my way through it. I’m experienced enough to know the adjustments I have to make in those types of circumstances.”

Sharapova, 25, won in Melbourne in 2008 but then suffered a long spell on the sidelines with shoulder problems before climbing back to the top of women’s tennis and completing a career Grand Slam at last year’s French Open.

“Certainly I was playing some of my best tennis in my career. Little did I know six months later I would not be playing tennis at all,” she said of 2008.

“It’s certainly nice to look back at those memories, nice to be able to sit here. I think this is, what, my ninth or 10th year playing the Australian Open.

“It’s nice to be still here in the middle of my career and go out on a court and compete in front of thousands of people.”