Maria Sharapova has declared herself fully fit for the Australian Open as she goes in search of a first title in eight years Down Under.
The 28-year-old was forced to withdraw from last week’s Brisbane International with a forearm injury, prompting fears she might not be able to take her place in the Melbourne Park line-up.
It would not be the first time the Russian has missed a Grand Slam event as she has suffered with injuries more than most during her stellar career.
But the Florida resident was seen practising in Victoria on Wednesday as she has chosen to arrive early and shun the chance of another warm-up event.
And the world number seven has declared herself happy with the situation and believes it may have been a blessing in disguise.
“The injury was a bit of a roadblock but the great thing is that I’ve been healthy the three days and everyone’s been away playing so I’ve had a lot of court time which has been really beneficial,” she said.
Sharapova is priced at 8.00 to win her second Aussie Open title, with world number one Serena Williams the 3.80 favourite and Victoria Azarenka on offer at 4.75.
Williams has also been struggling with fitness issues and withdrew from the recent Hopman Cup after playing just one set.
Sharapova feels it is inevitable that the top stars will try to look after their health in the lead-up to a major event.
“I think everyone sees the bigger picture and that’s one of the things that I thought about,” she added. “You want to do what you can to be healthy and be a part of the Grand Slam so sometimes that’s a decision you have to make.”