Sharapova returns in Mallorca: 'Every match is going to be a really good test'

Maria Sharapova
www.wtatennis.com|16-Jun-2019 22:49

Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova will make her return to competitive tennis this week at the Mallorca Open.

MALLORCA, Spain - Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is among four major winners in the main draw of the Mallorca Open this week, in her first tournament appearance in nearly six months.

The Russian has been sidelined with a shoulder injury since the end of January, having played just three tournaments this year.

"[My shoulder] is doing well. I took this time in order to come back to my first event and feel like I have a really good chance at it," Sharapova told reporters on Sunday.

"Being away from the game for a few months is always challenging, because you miss a lot of things, but from a shoulder perspective, I'm giving it a really good chance here. Every match is going to be a really good test."

Sharapova defeated defending champion Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open in January before falling to Ashleigh Barty in the round of 16, and was forced to miss, among other events, the French Open for the third time in the past four years.

"I've been through it before, 10 years ago with the shoulder. My shoulder has been troublesome for a majority of my career, Sharapova said.

"Before it was about pain management, but in January, I wasn't really enjoying playing because after every match I would think about what we would do to help my shoulder.

"I wasn't really thinking about being excited about the way I was playing, even though there were some great matches that I played in the start of the year."

Sharapova's ranking has dipped to World No.86, and is a wildcard this week in Mallorca.

She will face rising Slovak Viktoria Kuzmova, and could face top seed Angelique Kerber in the second round.

"When you go out in a tournament, anything can happen," Sharapova said. "You want to go out on the court and you want to show the type of tennis you think you can produce. I certainly have expectations for myself...and I enjoy getting better every day.

"Even though the injures are every frustrating...but then the next day, you start feeling better. The next day, you get better and you get a little more optimistic. A few months later, even though it's a long process, here you are and you're excited to compete again.

"I think everyone has their own trajectory and their own path...with all the things I have the opportunity to do in my life, I still get so much thrill [from tennis].

"I've learned over the course of my career that it doesn't always come to you as quickly as you wanted, but when it does, it's incredibly rewarding." 

Sharapova is joined in the field by fellow Slam winners Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur.

No.2 seed Anastasija Sevastova, a three-time finalist and 2017 champion, No.3 seed Belinda Bencic, and No.5 seed Amanda Anisimova and No.7 seed Sofia Kenin, off of their French Open breakthroughs, are also highlights in the draw.

"Even though the injures are every frustrating...but then the next day, you start feeling better. The next day, you get better and you get a little more optimistic. A few months later, even though it's a long process, here you are and you're excited to compete again.

"I think everyone has their own trajectory and their own path...with all the things I have the opportunity to do in my life, I still get so much thrill [from tennis].

"I've learned over the course of my career that it doesn't always come to you as quickly as you wanted, but when it does, it's incredibly rewarding." 

Sharapova is joined in the field by fellow Slam winners Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur.

No.2 seed Anastasija Sevastova, a three-time finalist and 2017 champion, No.3 seed Belinda Bencic, and No.5 seed Amanda Anisimova and No.7 seed Sofia Kenin, off of their French Open breakthroughs, are also highlights in the draw.