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Sharapova plays down French Open expectations

Maria Sharapova played down her hopes of a deep run into the French Open and admitted she's just happy to be playing again after almost 10 months on the sidelines.

sports Updated: May 22, 2009 19:02 IST

Maria Sharapova played down her hopes of a deep run into the French Open and admitted she's just happy to be playing again after almost 10 months on the sidelines.

The former world number one played her first competitive singles match in Warsaw Open this week since recovering from the shoulder injury which kept her out of the US Open, Olympics and this year's Australian Open.

"I don't have any expectations. I don't think this is the time in my career to have expectations," said the Russian who made the quarter-finals here before losing to Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko.

"But I am glad I played. It's a lot better than being at home and watching other people play and compete. I couldn't be happier. Obviously it's always disappointing to lose. You always want to win and come out on top, but it's been great."

Bondarenko, who was playing the Russian for the third time having lost twice to Sharapova in 2008, believes the former Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion has lost some of her service power.

"I thought it was going to be a tougher match," said Bondarenko. "She made a lot of mistakes and she didn't serve as hard."
Sharapova, whose ranking has slumped to 126 after her extended lay-off and played here with a small strapping on the right shoulder, hit back, saying that slow clay will always extract some zip from her serve.

"On this surface it's not easy to get a lot of free points on your serve or on your returns, because the court is much slower," said the Russian.

"Even though I have an aggressive game, and I try to take control of the court, sometimes you have to be patient.

"You can't go for outright winners and outright aces. You have to be a little bit smarter. I definitely don't think that was what hurt me."

Sharapova, whose best performance at Roland Garros remains a semi-final spot in 2007, now awaits Friday's French Open draw with anticipation, having finally made it back on court.

"This is the greatest preparation I could have had. I played three matches. I spent about three or four hours on the court in good match situations, and I couldn't be happier about it."