Maria Sharapova lost a doubles match on her return after seven months out with a shoulder injury. She was playing for the first time since withdrawing from a tournament in Montreal in August.
Maria and Elena Vesnina were defeated by Ekaterina Makarova and Tatiana Poutchek 6-1, 4-6, 10-7 in yesterday’s first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
“It feels really good to be back,” Maria said. "I started training a couple of months ago. I just wanted to... test it out in a match situation and get a little different scenery than the practice court and play in front of the crowd, so that was exciting."
Maria said she’s still some way off being able to practice for seven or eight straight days and “feeling 100 percent.”
“Right now, I am able to do maybe three or four days and then I have to take it easy on the fifth,” She said. “Obviously, that’s not the way to go about a tournament in singles. If I can’t do it in practice yet, then I am not going to enter a singles tournament.”
Maria looked quite strong on court, and seemed to improve as the match progressed. After overcoming some first-set rustiness, she seemed to move well, hit with accuracy and — most importantly — serve well.
And as the evening wore on, her serve got faster launching her fastest of the evening in the third set tiebreaker at 108 mph.
“You're going to have to notice (the serve) and hope your timing and feel of the ball gets better,” she said of her improvement during the match. “That's exactly what I wanted to get out of there.”
“My main goal for here was to just get out into that atmosphere and crowd again,” she said, even joking about her ignorance of doubles rules. “There's so many things I didn't know about the doubles match: I didn't know about no ad at 40 at all. It's pretty bad when you don't know that the game is over; and that coaching between games — I can't even keep a straight face."
“It was definitely not an upset … I was just happy to be there.”
Maria refused to speculate on what she will do for the Miami tournament later this month, saying she no longer sets timetables for herself.
"I'm done with setting a timetable for myself. Those days are over," she said.
Maria , who dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in four years in February, said her absence from the tour “has actually been really fun” because she had more time to spend with her family, relax and travel.
“I am usually out of the house the day after Christmas, I don’t get to celebrate much,” Maria said. Her time off had taught her to “appreciate life a little more,” she said.
At the same time, Sharapova had missed tennis and playing in front of a crowd, while also gaining perspective on the plight of a professional tennis star. She has been telling others in the players’ lounge to be grateful.
“I am just glad that I have the opportunity to be here again,” Sharapova said. “I don’t think I am going to throw my racket anymore, or be mad. We are very fortunate.”
Posted by Lana On 3/13/2009 09:36:00 AM