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‘I still have a lot of fire in me’: Sharapova on comeback trail in Brisbane

“[And] I don’t think my surgically repaired shoulder will ever be perfect. But I still feel there is a lot in me to give. I still have a lot of fire in me. As long as the shoulder stays healthy and my body allows me to, I hope there is a lot of time left for me.”

The Russian’s world ranking plummeted to No.133 due to her injury woes and she faces a big test at the Brisbane International starting on January 6.

It features a strong field, including Australia’s world No.1 Ashleigh Barty, reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, defending Brisbane International champion Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams. However, Sharapova said she was up for the challenge.

“It’s a fresh start after a tough last season,” said Sharapova, who won her last grand slam title in 2014. “There were a lot of ups and downs. It [shoulder] has been about pain management that, unfortunately, in 2019 I wasn’t able to handle.


“But I have had a fairly good off-season and I am motivated to compete. At this point in my career when I have that feeling, it’s a good sign.”

Sharapova is also scheduled to play the Kooyong Classic but said results in Brisbane may determine whether she gains an Australian Open wildcard.

“While it is about results for me, it is more about how I feel day to day, making sure my shoulder holds up but I am definitely up for that test,” she said.

Sharapova is hopeful of again threatening at the Australian Open, which has been the backdrop for her career’s highs and lows.

She won the grand slam at Melbourne Park in 2008, but at the 2016 Australian Open she tested positive to a banned substance and was suspended for two years, reduced to 15 months on appeal.

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