Maria Sharapova doubts whether she will participate in the Australian Open next year. The 32-year-old Russian finally hoped to return to her old form in Melbourne, but lost to Donna Vekic in the first round on Tuesday.
Sharapova played only fifteen games in 2019 due to continuing injury, but is now fit again and expected a lot from the Australian Open. The five-time Grand Slam winner, who received a wild card, was not able to cope with Vekic, who was placed nineteenth (6-3 and 6-4) in her first game.
"I was there and gave everything," a disappointed Sharapova said at her press conference. "No matter how difficult it was, I finished the race. It didn't go the way I had in mind, but it's not in my character to start talking about the shoulder problems I've had."
It has been a long time since Sharapova showed a glimpse of her top form. She won a WTA tournament (Tianjin) for the last time in 2017, partly because she was suspended for 15 months for the use of the prohibited substance meldonium and last year suffered a shoulder injury.
Maria Sharapova congratulates Donna Vekic. (Photo: Pro Shots)
"Difficult to say what will happen"
At the last two Grand Slam tournaments, Sharapova was also eliminated in the first round, but it is only the first time since 2010 that the former number one in the world loses her first game at the Australian Open.
Because of her defeat, Sharapova will continue to fall on the world ranking. She still occupies the 145th place in the ranking, but will soon fall out of the top 350. That means Sharapova must continue to qualify for Grand Slams through qualifications and that she may have played her last Australian Open.
"I don't know yet. I find it difficult to say what will happen in the next twelve months, because I have not looked that far", Sharapova said. "I am happy that I was able to take action here and I want to thank the organization for the opportunity I have received."
Sharapova, who won the Australian Open in 2008, won every Grand Slam tournament at least once. At Roland Garros, the Russian was twice at the longest end (2012 and 2014). She won a total of 36 tournaments on the WTA tour.