World No.4 Maria Sharapova says she’s fully overcome a forearm injury that threatened to derail her Australian Open campaign.
The Russian, who was runner-up at Melbourne Park last year, pulled out of her title defence at the Brisbane International in early January after the injury flared during training.
She used the opportunity to move to her preparations to Melbourne earlier than planned and said on Wednesday she’d spent plenty of time on the Open courts.
The 28-year-old said she was ready to add a second title to her 2008 crown after finishing runner-up three times, including falling in the 2015 final to Serena Williams.
“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 said.
Williams has been battling a knee injury while world No.2 Simon Halep also pulled out of Brisbane with an Achilles problem leaving the Open title wide open.
Sharapova believed like her, they were taking a precautionary path with injury rather than risk missing the tournament.
“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.”
Sharapova played her first Australian Open in 2003 and said because of the extreme heat in Melbourne in January it was usually the most physically challenging.
She had a taste of that on Wednesday hitting balls in 40-degree conditions with some junior players as part of a Evian water sponsor promotion.
But the tournament was also her most enjoyable and she now allowed herself time to relax and explore Melbourne.
“I used to have quite a regime and used to always go straight back to the hotel but now I go and have a coffee or explore somewhere new or have dinner out,” she said.