Maria Sharapova returns, last seen at the US Open—a tournament that promised much from her, but did not deliver.
Maria Sharapova needs to Reward Supporters with on-court Performances
This should be seen as Sharapova’s opportunity for a first title since October 2017, when she won the Tianjin Open. Such a long drought without a title is simply not acceptable for a player of Sharapova’s talents.
Sharapova defeated the audaciously talented Aryna Sabalenka to win her last tournament. Sabalenka is the #1 seed her3 and could be Sharapova’s quarterfinal opponent. The dangerous Qiang Wang and currently underperforming Caroline Garcia sit in the other side of the draw. Sharapova will need to re-assess after this tournament if she does not go deep.
Timea Bacsinszky First up for Sharapova
New Year’s Eve sees Sharapova playing injury prone Swiss player Timea Bacsinszsky for the fifth time in their careers. Sharapova won their last meeting on the Madrid clay, in 2015. They have one hardcourt victory apiece–this has the makings of a good match. Sharapova will seek to move Bacsinszky around the court to test her rival’s sharpness. This match will be a good gauge to where Sharapova is at.
17-Year Old Xiyu Wang is a Potential 2nd Round Opponent for Sharapova
Should the Russian see off the Swiss, there is a potentially mouthwatering clash with arguably China’s future star, Xiyu Wang. Wang pushed Sharapova’s compatriot Daria Kasatkina all the way in Wuhan last season. Naivete in decision making cost her at key points in that match. She will be wiser should she play Sharapova. This would certainly test Maria Sharapova’s appetite and hunger for the game.
Sharapova Could Send out Message ahead of Australian Open
Should Maria Sharapova be anywhere near her best, then a good showing is entirely possible. This would be a great sign for her supporters going into the Australian Open in a few week’s time. Another poor showing and the excuses will surely start to run out. Commentators are starting to question Sharapova’s hunger for the game. It’s time to see what the Russian star has left in the locker.