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Sharapova has ‘expectations’ for return from 5-month absence

Palma – Maria Sharapova said on Sunday that she has “expectations” for herself ahead of her return from a five-month injury absence in Mallorca next week.

The five-time Grand Slam champion has not played since withdrawing from the St Petersburg event in January to have surgery on a long-standing shoulder injury.

Sharapova has struggled to find top form since coming back from a 15-month doping ban in 2017.

“When you go out in a tournament, anything can happen,” the 32-year-old told wtatennis.com.

“You want to go out on the court and you want to show the type of tennis you think you can produce. I certainly have expectations for myself… And I enjoy getting better every day.

“The injuries are very frustrating… But then the next day, you start feeling better.

“The next day, you get better and you get a little more optimistic. A few months later, even though it’s a long process, here you are and you’re excited to compete again.”

Sharapova will face Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova in the first round of the grass-court Wimbledon warm-up event, and could play three-time Grand Slam title winner Angelique Kerber in round two.

The Russian star beat former world number one Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open earlier this year, but has only reached one major quarter-final since being suspended for taking meldonium.

Sharapova thinks that, due to the injury, she was not enjoying her tennis six months ago.

“I’ve been through it before, 10 years ago with the shoulder. My shoulder has been troublesome for a majority of my career,” she said.

“Before it was about pain management, but in January, I wasn’t really enjoying playing because after every match I would think about what we would do to help my shoulder.

“I wasn’t really thinking about being excited about the way I was playing, even though there were some great matches that I played in the start of the year.”

Sharapova has slipped to 86th from 29th in the rankings during her lay-off.

“I took this time in order to come back to my first event and feel like I have a really good chance at it.

“Being away from the game for a few months is always challenging, because you miss a lot of things, but from a shoulder perspective, I’m giving it a really good chance here. Every match is going to be a really good test.”

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