MELBOURNE: Multiple grand slam champion Maria Sharapova has declared herself fully fit and ready for next week’s Australian Open after having her preparations hampered by a forearm injury.
The Russian world No.5 was forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International last week with the ailment, sparking fears she might miss the year’s first grand slam starting on Monday.
The 2008 Australian Open champion and last year’s runner-up opted to arrive in Melbourne early to practise rather than seek matches at one of the other warm-up events taking place across the country this week.
“The injury was a bit of a roadblock but the great thing is that I’ve been healthy the three days and everyone’s been away playing so I’ve had a lot of court time which has been really beneficial,” Sharapova was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old, who missed the US Open last year because of a leg injury, was among a quartet of top players who were a doubt for Melbourne because of nagging ailments.
World number one Serena Williams (knee), Simona Halep (Achilles) and Garbine Muguruza (foot) all pulled out of matches last week but Sharapova said it was understandable for players to be wary ahead of a major.
“I think everyone sees the bigger picture and that’s one of the things that I thought about you want to do what you can to be healthy and be a part of the grand slam so sometimes that’s a decision you have to make.”
Meanwhile, world No.1 Serena insists she is fit and ready for a tilt at a seventh Australian Open title, downplaying a knee injury that forced her out of the Hopman Cup.
Serena retired due to soreness in her left knee during a singles match on Jan 6 at the mixed-team tournament in Perth, casting doubt over her ability to defend her title at the Australian Open.
But the 34-year-old told the Melbourne Herald Sun she was “ready for it”.
“My body is feeling great now,” she said. “Obviously, I had a hiccup but right now it is doing much better. I’ve had a few days of training so it’s looking good.”
Serena, who battled knee problems in the latter half of 2015 and has barely played since October, trained at Melbourne Park on Monday.
“I know what I need to do on and off the court to win big tournaments,” she added to the newspaper late Monday. “That is what I like to do.”
At the time of her retirement in Perth, Serena said: “I just have some inflammation that’s been going away very slowly. It’s still there, it’s going away, but just needs a little more time. A little rest, a little treatment.”
Courtesy : Dawn News