Maria Sharapova: 'If shoulder holds up, I still have a couple of good years'

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Maria Sharapova: 'If shoulder holds up, I still have a couple of good years'

The 12th edition of the WTA Premier event in Brisbane will occupy the second week of January 2020, together with Shenzhen and Auckland. Since 2009, almost every notable name from the WTA Tour has played in Brisbane, including Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina who all won the title there.

Six players from the top-10 and 12 from the top-20 will seek the first title of the season, including Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens. Former champion Maria Sharapova will join them in the trophy hunt, receiving a wild card and hoping for a fresh start after many ups and downs in 2019 that saw here playing only eight tournaments and none since the US Open.

Maria will finish the year outside the top-100 for just the second time since 2002 when she was only 15, entering only eight tournaments in 2019 and struggling to find her best tennis after numerous injuries and setbacks.

The five-time Major champion was the quarter-finalist in the first event of the season in Shenzhen, followed by the fourth-round loss to Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open that also gave her confidence ahead of the upcoming tournaments.

Nonetheless, those victories in Melbourne proved to be the last back-to-back wins for the Russian who withdrew from St. Petersburg and stayed sidelined until Mallorca in June with ongoing shoulder problems. Sharapova scored only two wins in her final five events of the year, suffering that massive loss against Serena Williams in New York and finishing the season after that match, unable to enter Linz or Luxembourg.

Rested and confident, Maria defeated Ajla Tomljanovic at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship earlier in December, hoping for more of the same in Brisbane as she wants to start all over and fight for the high ranking positions again.

If her shoulder endures the pressure, Sharapova would love to stay active for a couple of more years, feeling she still have the fire and desire that would drive her against the top-ranked rivals. "I want a fresh start after a tough last season," Sharapova said.

"There were a lot of ups and downs in 2019; also times when I was ready but the shoulder wasn't. But I have had a fairly good offseason and I am motivated to compete on a high level again. At this point in my career, it's a good sign when I have that feeling.

I never saw myself playing past 30 when I was younger but I still feel there is a lot in me to give. I still have a lot of fire and I am a big competitor; as long as the shoulder stays healthy and my body allows me to, I hope there is a lot of time left for me in tennis.

The results are important, but for me, it is more about how I feel day to day, making sure my shoulder holds up. If everything goes well, I am definitely up for that challenge."