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Sharapova to face tough opposition in Australian Open match against Vekic, expert says

The Australian Open is held in Melbourne January 20 - February 2

MOSCOW, January 16. /TASS/. Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova will have to dig deep in her opening match in the 2020 Australian Open against Croatia’s Donna Vekic, Russian coach Vladimir Kamelzon told TASS on Thursday.

Sharapova, five-time Grand Slam champion currently sitting at No. 145 in the world, had to rely on a wildcard to compete in the main draw of this year’s tournament, while Vekic is No. 19 seed.

"Donna Vekic is going to be a tough match for Maria, let’s be honest. She [Maria] is in good form, the team is working after all. She has a lot of problems, she should stand on her feet better, breathe better but she knows how to play better than any of us. However, I would not risk saying that she will just win, expecting a victory," he said.

"Sharapova is very unlucky in her first round matches. She is Sharapova, everyone is playing her as Sharapova, while her ranking lags behind. In the end, matches turn out great but the result is not in her favor. Maria lost tournament practice. She keeps failing to stay in a tournament long enough to gain that practice and it is a very important point," he concluded.

Sharapova is currently ranked 145th in the WTA rankings, she has won 36 singles titles. The Russian holds a rare achievement of obtaining a career Grand Slam which means that she won each Grand Slam tournament at least once - Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and 2014. She also won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Australian Open is held in Melbourne from January 20 to February 2. The tournament offers $49.1 million in prize money.