Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 30th 2013 Contents A63
Monday, December 30, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
BRISBANE---After pulling out of the
Brisbane International with injuries
in recent seasons, Maria Sharapova is
aiming to use the season-opening
tournament this time as a springboard
for her comeback and to see how her
new support crew works in competi-
Sharapova has only played one match
since an early exit at Wimbledon due
to a right shoulder injury and has spent
months working with her new coach
Sven Groeneveld. She arrived in Aus-
tralia to prepare for the first major of
the season with her boyfriend and fellow
professional Grigor Dimitrov, who
returns after losing the final here to
Andy Murray last season.
Serena Williams won the last Brisbane
title and is back to defend it, hoping
she hasn t lost any of the momentum
from a stunning 2013 season when she
won 11 titles including the French and
US Opens, had 78 wins from 82 matches
--- including a 34-match winning streak
--- and collected more than $12 million
in prize money.
Her brief offseason was not exactly
business as usual---although it was com-
She trained in Florida with her father,
Richard, so she could be close to home
for the relaunch of one of her companies
and to hire a CEO for it.
"I was interviewing so many people.
Corporate Serena was taking over," she
told a news conference Sunday. "I m
happy to be here right now."
Corporate Serena conducted at least
10 interviews, and still has at least one
more to do. She expects it to be a tough
interview, like they all are.
"I definitely am not easy ... I m a
tough interviewer. For me, it s all about
business and removing a lot of emotion,"
she said. "I just want to get to the point."
And that brings her back to tennis,
where she can turn the corporate email
account off for a while and concentrate
on what she does best.
"I took a couple weeks off, but I was
already itching to get back on the court,"
she said. "I didn t want to lose any
rhythm or anything. Didn t want to lose
No. 3-seeded Sharapova is in
Williams half of the draw, meaning
they could meet in the semifinals.
The Brisbane tournament will be
Sharapova s only warmup for the Aus-
tralian Open, which starts January 13,
so she needs to find her rhythm quickly.
She said she d been practicing hard, but
also concentrating on relaxing when
she s off the court. Traveling with Dim-
itrov has helped, she said, despite or
because of their major common inter-
"Of course we share a lot of the same
things just because we have an elephant
in the room that s called tennis," Shara-
pova said Sunday. "But there are so
many other things to life that are besides
tennis, and there are a lot more things
to discuss than forehands and back-
hands and strings and rackets, which
we share similar ideas and things of."
Sharapova split with coach Thomas
Hogstedt after her Wimbledon loss, and
said she wasn t in the right frame of
mind to work with Jimmy Connors long
term --- that partnership lasted one
"You have to realise that the decisions
you make, you have to make them self-
ishly in this business to be better, to
know what s right for you," she said.
"From the first time we met I really
liked what (Groeneveld) had to say. He s
a team player. He works with everyone
on my team, something I was missing
for a little bit of time."
In first-round results at Brisbane:
Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki had
a 6-3, 6-4 win over Magdalena
Rybarikova of Slovakia; Andrea Petkovic
of Germany beat American Bethanie
Mattek-Sands 6-4, 7-5; Japanese vet-
eran Kimiko Date-Krumm won 6-3, 7-
5 over Australia s Olivia Rogowska; and
Swiss player Stefanie Vogele beat Amer-
ican Madison Keys 6-4, 6-3.
Former No. 1-ranked Caroline Woz-
niacki withdrew after hurting her right
shoulder in practice but said she expect-
ed to be fit the Sydney International
While Serena Williams gets a first-
round bye in Brisbane, her older sister
Venus Williams will be in action from
the first round at the WTA event in
Auckland on today when she plays 134-
ranked Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech
Serena Williams speaks during a press
conference ahead of the Brisbane
International tennis tournament in
Brisbane, Australia, yesterday . AP
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