Maria Sharapova proved on Thursday that she still has the inner fire and strong motivation to play professionally, despite a shoulder problem that has dragged and kept her out of major this season.
The one time world number one player was able to partake in eight events in 2019, contesting just 15 games in all.
The Russian five-time major champion made her first on-court appearance since her US Open first round exit in August in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, where she fought back from a break down in each set to defeat Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 7-5.
“Any chance that I get to come out and play competitively is a really good day because I just haven’t played a lot,” Sharapova told reporters at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
“Definitely I’m coming out of this match happy that I was out there again and it can only get better from here.”
She refused to talk deep about her shoulder injury, she only said she “felt fine” after her clash with Tomljanovic, while keeping her expectations in check having been sidelined for nearly four months.
Sharapova intends travelling Down Under for next month’s Australian Open but she reassured she will not play Olympic Games in Tokyo.
When asked what her 2020 future will look like, she said she’s unsure but: “I think that will be one of the biggest challenges for the new year, it’s to have a set schedule,” said the 32-year-old.
“I definitely look forward to going to Australia and seeing how things go, see how the body holds up there.