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Russian tennis chief: Sharapova capable of winning 2018 Australian Open

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova will play against Germany’s Tatjana Maria in the opening round of the tournament

MOSCOW, January 11. /TASS, Andrey Kartashov/. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has all chances of winning the 2018 Australian Open if she remains psychologically stable and displays decent game at the tournament, Shamil Tarpishchev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), told TASS on Thursday.

Tennis players learnt their pairings for the 2018 Australian Open, which kicks off next week, after the Draw Procedure in Melbourne earlier on Thursday. Sharapova was drawn to play against Germany’s Tatjana Maria in the opening round of the tournament.

"Sharapova’s draw looks normal and although there will be no easygoing games her tournament table is manageable and everything will depend on her," Tarpishchev said in an interview with TASS. "A lot will depend on the degree of fatigue and the psychological condition."

"If she demonstrates a good game, just like she did in China at the end of the previous season, Maria will be able to fight for the victory," Tarpishchev said. "Knowing her will and seeing how she regains her physical shape, I can say that Sharapova can fight for the elite."

The opening Grand Slam tournament of the year runs on January 15-28 and boasts $43 million in prize money up for grabs.

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.

Last October, Sharapova won the 2017 WTA Tianjin Open in China and it was her first tournament to win since May 2015.