One week away from the French Open, Russia's Maria Sharapova battled hard to win her first competitive game since going on a nine-month injury break. The 22-year-old former world number one has slipped to 126th in the rankings.
AFP - Maria Sharapova said she was gunning for Grand Slam glory again after making her comeback from a nine-month injury lay-off with a first-round victory at the WTA Warsaw Open on Monday.
The 22-year-old former world number one was taken to three sets by Italy's Tathiana Garbin before eventually prevailing 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 and said she was delighted to be back in action.
"In these nine months, the only thing that I've accomplished is a good pasta carbonara," she joked.
"At the end of the day, that's not my specialty. My specialty is to go out and compete in Grand Slams."
The Russian has slipped to a world ranking of 126 after being laid low by an injury to her right shoulder and she admitted that the road to recovery had not been easy.
"Right now I've been not playing for nine months, so everything is a test," she said. "Every single day is a test, especially after you have surgery."
Sharapova appeared to be cruising to a comfortable victory when serving for the match at 5-3 up in the second set, but a nervy service game enabled her opponent to get back into the match.
The three-time major-winner, though, said her errors had nothing to do with her problematic shoulder.
"I think it was definitely me trying to finish the match off and being a bit more nervous in that second set," she said.
"It's a whole different ball game when you haven't been there in a while and it throws you off a little bit.
"There you are after nine months, you have an opportunity to win your first match back so you start thinking of everything that has gone on and how you've planned to use the present time."
Sharapova, who has titles at Wimbledon (2004), the US Open (2006) and the Australian Open (2008) under her belt, revealed that the time off had made her feel like a returning veteran.
"I feel like I'm 30," she said. "It's definitely strange.
"I feel like I've been around for so many years and you come back after nine months and you're eating dry pasta without sauce and you're thinking: 'Oh, is this what I came back for?' But then you go out on the court and it's like: 'This is what I came back for!'"
Sharapova, though, rubbished suggestions that her extended lay-off might have dulled some of her appetite for the game.
"I don't think I've done enough," she said. "I feel I can accomplish a lot more. I may be 22 years old but I'm not done. I have many things to do and many things to accomplish and I'm a girl on a mission."
Date created : 2009-05-19