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Sharapova fully fit for Australian Open challenge

MELBOURNE: Multiple grand slam champion Maria Sharapova has declared herself fully fit and ready for next week’s Australian Open after having her preparations hampered by a forearm injury.

The Russian world number five was forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International last week with the ailment, sparking fears she might miss the first grand slam of the year which begins on Monday.

The 2008 Australian Open champion and last year’s runner-up opted to arrive in Melbourne early to practice rather than seek matches at one of the other warm-up tournaments taking place across the country this week.

“The injury was a bit of a roadblock but the great thing is that I’ve been healthy the three days and everyone’s been away playing so I’ve had a lot of court time which has been really beneficial,” Sharapova was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old, who missed the U.S Open last year because of a leg injury, was among a quartet of top players who were a doubt for Melbourne because of nagging ailments.

World number one Serena Williams (knee), Simona Halep (Achilles) and Garbine Muguruza (foot) all pulled out of matches last week but Sharapova said it was understandable for players to be wary ahead of a major.

“I think everyone sees the bigger picture and that’s one of the things that I thought about — you want to do what you can to be healthy and be a part of the grand slam so sometimes that’s a decision you have to make.”

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