Maria Sharapova played her first competitive match since last August, paired with Elena Vesnina at the BNP Paribas Open. The Russians lost to Ekaterina Makarova and Tatiana Poutchek 6-1 4-6 10-7 in the first round.
Despite the defeat, Sharapova is glad to be back:
It feels pretty good, it's pretty amazing. I came here and just wanted to test it out. I started training a couple of months ago and I thought I'd test it out in a match situation and play in front of a crowd, and it was exciting.
The disappointing fact is that Sharapova is still not ready for high-intensity competition:
I think the hump I've got to get through right now is to put two weeks of playing two, three sets every single day, for two weeks and feeling great, 100 percent. Right now I am able to do maybe three days, four days and then I have to take it easy on the fifth. Obviously that's not the way to go about a tournament in singles, so that's what I am working up to right now and whenever that comes, that's when I'll be playing singles.
The 21-year-old Sharapova hadn’t played doubles since mid-2005, but chose to make her return to tennis after a seven-month absence slowly, and hence opted for avoiding singles at the beginning. (source: ESPN, photo: Ralf Reinecke)