Sports

Sharapova raring to go at Australian Open

Sharapova unfazed by lack of game time and underwear mix-up

Maria Sharapova says her Australian Open preparations have gone smoothly despite her lack of recent on-court action, all barring a mix-up at the Melbourne Park laundry over a pair of leopard-print underwear.

Sharapova, Australian Open champion in 2008, pulled out of her title defence at the Brisbane International two weeks ago because of a left forearm problem, one of a string of injuries to have dogged the 28-year-old since the middle of last year.

Nevertheless, the fifth seed said she was good to go in her bid improve on her runner-up finish to Serena Williams in her fourth Melbourne final last year.

"I feel really good. Got to Melbourne earlier than I wanted to. But it gave me a chance to practise here this week. Had great days on a lot of the courts," the Russian said yesterday.

"I've always been someone that's been able to treat their practice as something meaningful - there's something on the line, you're not just going through the motions.

"That's one of the reasons I believe in myself knowing, okay, I may not have played five matches in Brisbane but, if I commit myself, train well, get some practice sets in, I know with that mindset I'll be able to (compete).

RUSTY

"Yes, I might be rusty, make a few more unforced errors than I would like, but I'm ready to go."

World No. 5 Sharapova, who starts her campaign against Japan's Nao Hibino, said not even playing a warm-up event could prepare a player fully for the challenges of a tournament opener.

"First matches at a Grand Slam... it's always tricky, especially going into a match against somebody I've never faced before," she said.

"There are a lot of new things. You have to have a little bit of a different perspective and figure things out quickly as soon as you can."

One thing Sharapova perhaps had not expected yesterday in the session with the media was a question about laundry mishaps, but happily she had an anecdote immediately to hand after the quirky inquiry was made.

"I actually just returned a pair of underwear that wasn't mine, like 45 minutes ago. Funny you ask that," she laughed.

"It was a female pair of underwear, not male. It was leopard. I'm like, 'that's not mine'.

"Hopefully, the individual wasn't attached to their underwear. And I gave it back, so hopefully they'll get it. Any more laundry situations I need to clear up before we get on with our day?" - Reuters.

UnderwearMaria Sharapovaaustralian opentennis