Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova will always be considered as Grand Slam contenders, but their Australian Open preparations have been hit by left thigh strains.
Former world No.1 Muguruza maintains she will be fit for the Sydney International next week, despite suffering the leg injury during Spain’s tie against France at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
Meanwhile, five-time major champion Sharapova was forced to retire midway through her Shenzhen Open quarterfinal against top seed Aryna Sabalenka.
Dazzling display of tennis from @GarbiMuguruza ????
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) January 4, 2019
Muguruza, currently down at No.18 in the world, left the court leading Alize Cornet 3-0 in the first set on Friday afternoon to receive treatment and returned after a lengthy spell with strapping on her left thigh.
The 25-year-old, champion at Roland Garros in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017, wrapped up a 6-1 6-3 victory, but was unable to join-up with David Ferrer in the mixed doubles contest.
The dual Grand Slam champion thinks the leg pain was a result of a tough week on the court and didn’t feature in the doubles only as a precaution.
“I work hard, as well with matches and the whole week. So, today I was a little bit tired. I just felt a little pain in my quad and I thought, you know what, protect it a little bit,” said the Spaniard. “I kept fighting and kept playing.”
— Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) January 4, 2019
Muguruza endured a testing time in Perth, having lost to world No.2 Angelique Kerber in three sets and Australia’s Ash Barty in two.
“I came to have good matches and be competitive and I think I got it,” continued the 25-year-old, who was pleased with her Perth experience. “You always want to win all of them, but I found what I was looking for.”
The Sydney tournament is Muguruza’s last warm-up event before the Australian Open and she will open her title quest facing compatriot Carla Suarez Navarro on Monday.
Last day of 2018, walking out onto an arena I love so much. Thank you Shenzhen for this rockstar-like welcome. Happy New Year! ???????????? pic.twitter.com/P2qh9fSUTS
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) January 1, 2019
Back to China, where Sharapova was trailing Sabalenka 6-1 4-2 before the left thigh pain became too much to take.
The former world No.1 was hampered in her movement during a rapid opening set, prompting coach Thomas Hogstedt to instruct, “If you feel more like you did on the first point, then you just stop. Or you take a medical now.”
The Australian Open 2008 champion now faces a race to prove her fitness for the first major of 2019; Sharapova also carried heavy strapping taped across her right shoulder on court.
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