Sharapova a controversial presence at Australian Open draw
Sharapova a controversial presence at Australian Open draw
I helped Maria Sharapova win the Australian Open and I can do the same for Jo Konta, claims Michael Joyce
13 January, 2018, 08:53
Australian Open organisers have defended the decision to have Maria Sharapova walk the trophy on to the court for the tournament draw. The occasion had an uneasy air about it when the Russian - whose last appearance here was two years ago, losing to her American rival in the quarter-finals and then serving 15 months for failing a drugs test - was invited to share the opening ceremony spotlight with the men's champion, Roger Federer.
The only other former victor in this year's tournament, Angelique Kerber, was not available as she was preparing for her semi-final clash at the Sydney International.
This is set to be another wide open tournament in the absence of Williams, and Sharapova revealed she still believes she can be world number one.
We needed a former champion to come.
Sharapova's involvement in the draw ceremony would be rendered irrelevant if she were to lose in the first round to the German Tatjana Maria, who is also aged 30 and is ranked one place above her in the world.
It's been nearly six years since Maria Sharapova was world No.1 and a decade since she won the Australian Open, but the Russian still hopes to achieve both once more as she rebuilds her tennis career.
But the 30-year-old remains unseeded and has her work cut out to progress far in the draw, with 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Sharapova at the US Open, a potential second-round opponent and Kerber likely to be waiting in round three. "It's for anyone to grab".
"I certainly hope I can put myself in that position. because I've been there and have delivered on those moments".
He said: "It was an fantastic final, an unbelievable moment for me in my life and it's great to be back here". The fifth set was maybe the best set I ever played.
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