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Sharapova tests shoulder in doubles defeat

sports Updated: Mar 13, 2009 09:29 IST

Maria Sharapova's first test of her surgically repaired right shoulder proved brief as the Russian dropped a doubles decision on Thursday in her first competitive match since August.

Sharapova, the former world number one and 2008 Australian Open champion, was hindered by a right shoulder injury much of last season and skipped the Beijing Olympics and the US Open before having arthroscopic surgery in October.

She was upbeat despite her abrupt dismissal from the 4.5 million-dollar tournament, as she and partner Elena Vesnina were beaten 6-1, 4-6 (10/7) by Ekaterina Makarova and Tatiana Poutchek in a first-round match that went to a super-tiebreak after they split the first two sets.

"I'm blessed I can have the opportunity to be here again," she said of her newfound appreciation for her career.

"I don't think I'm going to throw my racquet any more. Just to have the opportunity to step on the court and do what we do."

But Sharapova said she wasn't yet fit enough to play singles - and she refused to be drawn on when she might be.

"It felt good today," Sharapova said. "I think the hump I've got to get through now is to come on court and play two or three sets every day for a week or two weeks.

"Right now I do four days and then I have to take it easy."

After announcing plans to play at the Paris Open and then in Dubai earlier this year, and then deciding she wasn't fit, Sharapova said she would take it as it comes.

"I'm done with setting a timetable for myself," she said.

The 21-year-old said there had been unexpected pleasures as well as frustrations in the wake of her surgery.

"It has been fun in a way. I've gotten to do things and take trips and do things with the family," she said. "I've gotten to appreciate life a little bit more."

However, she has found rehabilitation can be difficult.

"You try to take two steps forward and sometimes you push too much," she said. "My experience is I have a great week practising, or just moving my arm, you feel it's doing really well so you push a little more and then you feel you have to step it down again."

"I can't complain," she added. "I'm a lot better than I was on October 15 when I was under the knife."

Sharapova had been dogged by an injury to her shoulder for more than a year.

"I knew there was something wrong with my shoulder when I was sitting in this press conference last year," said the 21-year-old, who was told she had inflammation in the joint.

"You keep trying, and you keep getting through it, but when you know it's something else you have to address it."