Maria Sharapova spent her Christmas worrying about the collarbone pain, which has prevented the 2012 Australian Open finalist from playing a match prior to her Monday start at the first major of the new season.
The losing finalist to Victoria Azarenka a year ago at Melbourne Park remains confident that even without any competitive play, her game will be ready to face fellow Russian Olga Puchkova in the first round as the opening show court match of the tennis fortnight.
Sharapova’s minor niggle forced her out of the Brisbane event at the start of the year, sending the second seed to Melbourne early for training.
“I’m feeling really good. Obviously, I would have loved to have gone into Brisbane and play that,” she said. “I came here a little bit earlier than obviously I would have wanted to. I’ve been able to get a lot of good practise in, playing on centre court, be in Melbourne for a little bit.”
Australian Samantha Stosur takes on Chang Kai-Chen of Taiwan while AAMI Classic winner Lleyton Hewitt tackles Serb ninth seed Janko Tipsarevic. Serb Ana Ivanovic, seeded 13, plays Melinda Czink.
Sharapova said she woke up the day before Christmas with neck and shoulder area pain, which turned out to be a collarbone problem.
“Christmas Eve I had to do a few tests, machines, MRI. I just wanted to make sure that I really took care of that.
“I would have loved to come in with a few matches. But sometimes circumstances don’t allow that, and that’s okay.
“I’d rather be going onto the court knowing that I’m healthy. I might be a little bit rusty, but I’ll work my way through it. I’m experienced enough to know the adjustments I have to make in those types of circumstances.”