Sharapova Out of Aussie Open?
We were up first with the story last night on USATODAY.com that Maria Sharapova underwent a previously undisclosed right shoulder surgery two months ago and could miss the Australian Open, where she is defending champion. The Russian made the disclosure on her website while announcing she was withdrawing from the JB Classic exo on Jan. 7-10.
That Sharapova had suffered a setback in the last few months had been clear to me for a while since I was pursuing a story on her that continually, and vaguely, kept getting pushed back. While the injury earlier this year to the right-handed player was reported to be two small tears in her rotator cuff tendon, a source says that was not the reason for the surgery. The 22-minute operation apparently fixed the problem, and Sharapova is once again pain-free and keen to defend her title in Melbourne, but she suggested on her site that if she isn't ready to go, she'll beg off.
That would be a disappointing start to the 2009 season for the 21-year-old megastar, who came out of the gates last year like a lioness, going 18-0, winning Australia and three of her first four events, and recapturing the top ranking. What I find particularly troubling is that it appears that her first-strike, ball-crushing style has already taken a toll on Sharapova's young (and lanky) body. In 2007, she received cortisone shots for the same right shoulder, and it's not clear whether this latest surgery is related to that problem or is a new injury manifestation. We hope this is not going to be a chronic issue. Women's tennis needs its biggest star, and despite Sharapova's sometimes crass behavior (more so from her father), she has developed into one of the funnier and more quotable players on the WTA Tour.
This could be the last blog of the year, so to all who have occasionally or even habitually checked it out, let me say thank you. All the bes to you in 2009 and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!