MOSCOW, January 11. /TASS/. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova will play against Germany’s Tatjana Maria in the first round of the 2018 Australian Open, which kicks off next week on the courts of Melbourne Park.
The opening Grand Slam tournament of the year runs on January 15-28 and boasts $43 million in prize money up for grabs.
Tennis players learnt their pairings for the upcoming tournament today after the Draw Procedure in Melbourne and Sharapova was attending the ceremony.
World’s No. 1 and top-seed Simona Halep will open her battle for the 2018 Australian Open trophy with a match against 17-year-old Destanee Aiava of Australia, who is currently ranked 193rd in the WTA rankings.
Unseeded Sharapova and Germany’s Angelique Kerber (seeded 21) are the only two players at this year’s Australian Open, who won the tournament on previously. The Russian raised the trophy in 2008, while the German cruised to her Australian Open victory in 2016.
Sharapova is Russia’s most decorated tennis player having won a total of five Grand Slam tournaments, namely the Australian Open in 2008, the French Open in 2012 and 2014, Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006. She also clinched the silver in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and was the 2008 Federations Cup champion.
After the 15-month long suspension, imposed in 2016 for violating anti-doping regulations, Sharapova made her comeback to tennis in April last year.