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Sharapova gets Aussie Open wild card ticket

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Maria overjoyed to play in this month's Australian Open.

Maria Sharapova of Russia is glad that she has been given an opportunity to compete at the Australian Open this year. Picture: AP Photo / Tertius Pickard

Former world No 1 Maria Sharapova will be awarded a wild card to play in this month’s Australian Open, the organisers of the year’s first Grand Slam said yesterday.

The 32-year-old Russian is ranked 147th in the world after a season in which a long-standing shoulder injury restricted her to eight tournaments.

Sharapova played her first match since losing in the first round of last year’s US Open at the Brisbane International on Tuesday but was defeated 3-6 6-1 7-6(3) by American qualifier Jennifer Brady.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed yesterday that the 2008 champion will receive a wild card entry into the main singles draw for the tournament, which starts in Melbourne on January 20.

She responded with a “Thank you!!” to a post from the official Australian Open Twitter which read: “We’ll see you at #AO2020 @MariaSharapova…”

The five-times Grand Slam champion has been troubled by shoulder problems throughout her career and underwent surgery early last year, with lingering problems hampering her throughout the 2019 season.

“I’ve been fighting a virus for a couple of weeks and ended up in the hospital the other day, so that wasn’t fun,” Sharapova said after her loss in Brisbane.

“I just couldn’t keep anything in (but) that’s the extent that I’m going to share with you.”

Sharapova lost to Ash Barty in the fourth round of last year’s Australian Open.

Elsewhere, wild card Eugenie Bouchard showed she may have turned a corner as she attempts to resurrect her career with victory over eighth seed Caroline Garcia at the Auckland Classic yesterday.

Former world No 1 singles players Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki also breezed into the semi-finals of the doubles after they thumped top seeds Caroline Dolehide and Johanna Larsson 6-2 6-1 in just 52 minutes.

Wozniacki and Williams, who are good friends off the court, have teamed up to play as doubles pairing for the first time before the Dane retires after the Australian Open.

“Multiple times I was thinking ‘wow’,” Wozniacki said of the power strokes from Williams that blew the American/Swedish duo off court.

“I just wanted to win today. I’m happy for my second doubles victory in 10 years,” the Dane laughed.

Both will play their second-round singles matches today.

Bouchard, a former top-five player who made the Wimbledon final and semi-finals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 2014, has slumped to 262 in the rankings and is attempting to resurrect her career.

The 25-year-old Canadian battled for every point in her 6-4 6-4 second round victory against the Frenchwoman, who is mired in her own form slump having failed to advance past the second round of her previous 12 tournaments.

Reuters