Sharapova Highlights Day One
Top seed Maria Sharapova see early action on Day One of the ASB Classic.
Russian Maria Sharapova is relaxed, practiced, acclimatised and ready to take the court on Day One at the ASB Classic.
The top seed faces a tricky first-round KIA Motors Singles encounter with Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, ranked 57 in the world, in the third match scheduled for centre court in today’s sold-out day session.
In fact, Sharapova requested the Monday start virtually from the day she signed up for the tournament and has obviously spent the past six days preparing with that timing in mind.
“My last tournament was over two months ago and it will be really good to get back playing again,” she says. “My priority since I’ve been here has been to adjust to time and conditions ... I’ve had a couple of practices a day and think that has been really important.”
The former world number one and three-time Grand Slam winner struggled somewhat last year after a series of injuries hampered her progress. Her last outing was a second-round loss to countrywoman Elena Vesnina in Beijing last October.
Currently ranked 18, she has never played Suarez Navarro, but expects a solid workout.
“She has had some great tournaments in her career already,” says Sharapova. “She hits the ball with spin and moves well, but most of her results have been on clay.
“It will be a good match.”
The other feature singles match of Day One will immediately precede Sharapova’s debut and pits local wild card Sacha Jones against wily Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Jones is excited at meeting the two-time Grand Slam winner, and realistic about the gulf between their rankings – Kuznetsova is 27 and Jones 289.
“It would be a big upset, but you never know,” she says. “If I go out there and play well, I feel like anything can happen.
“I’ve worked hard to come so far, so you have to back yourself. My friends and family have never had the opportunity to watch me play, so it will be a novel experience for me and I want to enjoy it.”