WTA Tour

Sharapova foresees long-term Serena rivalry

2017-10-18 19:39
Maria Sharapova (AP)

Cape Town - Maria Sharapova insists she has many years ahead of her on court and is looking forward to facing old foe Serena Williams.

The Russian superstar has endured an up and down season since making her return to tennis in April following a 15-month doping ban.

A number of early exits were finally eclipsed by a great win over then world No 1 Simona Halep and finally a title in Tianjin.

The victory boosted Sharapova's world ranking to 57 and she still has every chance at qualifying for the Australian Open in January - where Williams also plans on making her return after she gave birth last month.

At 30-years-old, Sharapova is in the twilight of her career but she is hoping to remain on the WTA Tour for the foreseeable future.

"If strength and health are there, I will still be on the tour for a long time," the five-time grand slam winner said on court after her first round exit at WTA Moscow this week.

"You can see my love for the sport. I am trying to improve and win. Me and Serena have many years ahead of us."

Sharapova added that she struggled to get to full match fitness after 15 months on the sidelines.

"I had a difficult period due to the ban," she continued.

"And then physically, it's always difficult to get used to the routine of matches and practice sessions again if you didn't do it for a long time."

Williams leads their head-to-head 19-2, with Sharapova's last win over the American coming in 2004.

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