Sharapova eyes March return

2009-02-06 14:05

Paris - Maria Sharapova is targeting a return to competition in March either at Indian Wells or Miami.

The 21-year-old Russian former world No.1 has been on the sidelines since last August trying to fully recover from a shoulder injury that has dogged her for the last two years.

After giving the Australian Open last month a miss, she had been due to play in Paris next week followed by Dubai but has pulled out of both those tournaments and has now set her sights on the two top-tier US events.

"I have been training in Florida the last few weeks and really working hard on getting the strength back in my arm," Sharapova said on her website.

"It's really amazing how you can do all the exercises and rehab in the world, but nothing substitutes the time you spent on court running and hitting hundreds of balls.

"The biggest lesson I have learned throughout this whole process is that it takes so much patience to get back to where you were physically.

"Unfortunately just because the doctor fixes the problem and gives you the green light to practice doesn't mean that you can just go out there playing tournaments. "Yesterday I played my first few points with serves in about six months which was pretty exciting!

"Right now I'm aiming for Palm Springs (Indian Wells), or Miami, depending on how things shape up. I cannot wait to get back to playing tournaments!"

Sharapova's absence has seen her drop out of the world top 10 for the first time since here sensational Wimbledon title win in Kuly 2004. She is now ranked 17th.