x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Sharapova is keeping her feet on ground

Maria Sharapova is trying to keep a perspective on her comeback as she plays her first grand slam event at Flushing Meadows since returning from a nine-month absence due injury.

Sharapova says she will give it her best shot.
Sharapova says she will give it her best shot.

Maria Sharapova is trying to keep a perspective on her comeback as she plays her first grand slam event at Flushing Meadows since returning from a nine-month absence due injury. Last October, the three-time grand slam winner had surgery on her shoulder and only returned to singles competition in May in Warsaw, raising her world ranking to 30th and guaranteeing her a seeding at the US Open. She is seeded 29th.

Fellow Russian Dinara Safina, who was won three titles in total this year, is the top seed ahead of Serena Williams, her sister Venus Williams, Beijing Olympics gold medallist Elena Dementieva and Jelena Jankovic, the 2008 US Open runner-up, in that order. The 2006 US Open champion Sharapova, who has a 22-7 record at Flushing Meadow, is happy with her return so far, but is not setting her sights too high.

"With every tournament I feel physically I'm getting better and getting a good sense of the court but it's still a work in progress," Sharapova said. "I'd like to forget I was gone for a long time but you have to put things in perspective." "I can do all the running or Pilates I want, work myself until I'm blue in the face but when you go on court for the first time after months on end your body isn't used to the whole thing," she said.

But that has not stopped her from fancying her chances at a second major in New York. "I'm a competitor and have played many tournaments and won quite a few," said Sharapova, who first claimed the world No 1 spot in 2005. "You want to be the winner and if someone tells you otherwise they wouldn't be telling the truth." While Sharapova was circumspect, Andy Murray was upbeat about his chances. The world No 2 is seeded second behind Roger Federer and ahead of Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokoic and Andy Roddick at No 5.

Federer, winner of the 2009 French Open and Wimbledon titles, is the sixth man to complete a career Grand Slam after his victory at Roland Garros in June. But Murray has been preparing all year and believes he is now more than ready to win his first grand slam title. "I believe that if I play well, I can obviously win the tournament," said the Briton. "You need to be able to last physically and I think I am able to do that now. Coming into this US Open, it's probably the best I've felt coming in."

After several weeks undergoing intensive training in Miami, Murray is pleased with his fitness, which is his top priority. Having won five titles this year, the Scot is carrying the hopes of thousands of success-starved British fans, but admits the only pressure he feels is what he puts on himself. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to do it," he said. "At 22, I feel like I've achieved quite a lot for my age.

"This year I equalled my best result in Australia [last 16], did two rounds better than I ever did at the French Open [quarter-finals] and got further than I have done at Wimbledon [semi-finals]," said Murray. "So now the slam is the last thing I need to do. I believe that I can do it." @Email:sports@thenational.ae