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Russian tennis chief praises Sharapova’s optimistic performance after long hiatus

Sharapova has returned playing after an almost five-month break

MOSCOW, June 19. /TASS, Andrey Kartashov/. Maria Sharapova’s game on Tuesday was very optimistic considering her long-time absence from the courts due to a shoulder injury, Shamil Tarpishchev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), told TASS on Wednesday.

Sharapova has returned playing after an almost five-month break with a straight sets win on Tuesday in the opening round of the 2019 Mallorca Open tournament in Spain. The Russian tennis star was granted a wildcard for the tournament and she defeated Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova 7-6 (10-8); 6-0.

"Sharapova’s play was okay for a starting match considering the amount of time she missed," Tarpishchev said. "She served well and her game was optimistic."

"It will be now very interesting to see her play against [Angelique] Kerber," the Russian tennis chief added.

Top-seed Angelique Kerber cleared the first round of the tournament on Tuesday with 7-5; 4-6; 6-2 win over Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure. The German tennis star is set to face Sharapova on the Santa Ponsa grass on Thursday, June 20.

Before playing in Mallorca, the last time Sharapova hit the tennis courts was in January. In the opening round of the WTA tournament in Russia’s Saint Petersburg on January 28, Sharapova defeated Daria Gavrilova of Australia and was set to face her compatriot Daria Kasatkina in the following round, but she withdrew from the tournament citing a shoulder injury.

Sharapova, who turned 32 this April, 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.

In 2018, Sharapova participated in 11 tennis tournaments, including four Grand Slam competitions. Her best results last season were the semifinals of the tournaments in China’s Shenzhen and Italy’s capital city, Rome.

During last year’s Grand Slam tournaments, Sharapova reached the third round of the Australian Open, the quarterfinals of the Roland-Garros in France, was knocked out in the opening round at the Wimbledon and reached the fourth round stage of the US Open.

At the opening tournament of the Grand Slam series this year, the 2019 Australian Open, Sharapova managed to reach the 4th round, where she suffered a 6-4; 1-6; 4-6 defeat at the hands of Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.