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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 February 2019

Maria Sharapova refuses to give up grand slam ambitions after Australian Open exit

Former world No 1 has not won a major title since the 2014 French Open

Maria Sharapova's 2019 Australian Open campaign ended in the fourth round to Ashleigh Barty. Reuters
Maria Sharapova's 2019 Australian Open campaign ended in the fourth round to Ashleigh Barty. Reuters

Maria Sharapova is confident she can still win grand slam titles after losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open to local hope Ashleigh Barty on Sunday.

Former world No 1 Sharapova has displayed at Melbourne Park glimpses of the quality that led her to five major titles, most notably in her three-set win over defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. She also looked in ruthless form in her first round match where she didn't lose a single game.

However, the 31-year-old Russian's hopes of clinching her first grand slam title since the 2014 French Open were dashed by 15th seed Barty, who emerged a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 winner on Rod Laver Arena.

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Sharapova insisted she was still a grand slam contender, despite struggling with a shoulder injury and facing a new generation of players eager for success at the majors.

"I think it would be tough for me to be doing all the work and putting in all the effort if I didn't really believe that," she said. "I think I'd be kidding myself."

Sharapova was seeded 30 this year as she seeks to rejoin the game's elite after coming back from a 15-month doping ban in 2017.

"I had a great match a couple of days ago, I could have lost that one and I didn't," she added. "I pulled through and I had opportunities today to win."

Sharapova refused to discuss the positive drug test, from a sample taken at the 2016 Australian Open, that led to her suspension.

"Is there another question?" she responded when asked if she had found an alternative to the banned drug to treat her troublesome shoulder.

Sharapova also dismissed as "silly" a query on whether boos from the Australian crowd had contributed to her loss to the hometown favourite Barty.

Updated: January 20, 2019 01:32 PM

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