Although there are WTA events in Sydney and Hobart this week, much of the attention of the tennis world is focused on looking ahead to the first Major of the season next week, the Australian Open. One of the top players going into Melbourne will be Maria Sharapova. There are a lot of storylines in play for Masha. With her win at Brisbane last week, she has a mathematical shot of usurping the world #1 ranking from Serena Williams depending on how each does at the tennis fortnight. Sharapova won the 2008 Australian Open (one of her 5 Major singles titles), has reached the final 3 times and the semifinals 6 times. On paper, her 4th round exit last year was below expectations. However, consider that the loss was to Dominika Cibulkova, who went on the reach the final, losing to Li Na, and who also play extremely well to begin the season. Domi was really on a hot streak early in 2014. Masha’s win at Roland Garros 2014 marked the first time she has won the same Major twice. I’m sure she’d like to do the same with the Australian Open in a few Saturdays from now. Here is a video of her first practice hit on Rod Laver Arena and some photos from her photoshoot with the Ball Kids and Australian player Thanasi Kokkinakis, as well as a few photos from a Tag Heuer event/party in Melbourne.
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