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Maria Sharapova

Melbourne has been good to Maria Sharapova over the years.

Barring a blip in 2010 when she was upset by countrywoman Maria Kirilenko in the first round, and then a fourth-round exit in 2011, Sharapova has a remarkably consistent record at the Australian Open.

Since 2005 the statuesque 26-year-old has racked up three semifinals, two finals and one title for a 37-7 record at Melbourne Park, which is only bettered by her 39-8 record at Roland Garros over the same period.

She arrives in Melbourne this year following a semifinal finish at Brisbane where she contested her first WTA event since mid-August 2013.

That almost five-month hiatus was thanks to another injury to her right shoulder, which she says is ready for action following her Brisbane warm-up.

Now, with her ails behind her, Sharapova’s laser-like focus is squarely on winning a second title to add to her 2008 win. It would also be Sharapova’s second major anywhere having so far won once at each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

The third seed here, Sharapova finds herself in the bottom half of the draw along with second seed Victoria Azarenka, fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki, 11th seed Simona Halep and 13th seed Sloane Stephens.

It’s a tricky half to be in, and while Sharapova maintains she hasn’t analysed the draw she certainly would have noticed that her nemesis, Serena Williams, is safely tucked away in the top half of the draw – out of reach until the final of the tournament should they both make it that far.

That's good news for Sharapova, who has a modest 2-15 record against the 17-time Grand Slam title winner – a stat the Russian is acutely aware is very one-sided.

“I think I got to win a few times in order to call it a rivalry,” joked Sharapova in Brisbane when questioned about her rivalry with the current world No.1.

With new coach Sven Groeneveld on board, Sharapova will be hoping to get a few back on Williams this season. And if she has her way, that will start right here in Melbourne.

 

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Post-Tournament
Wednesday, 3 September 2014
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