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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sharapova Primed for Indian Wells Defense

ReutersSharaopova walking off court after practice in California on Wednesday.
INDIAN WELLS, California -- Maria Sharapova is in a confident mood for her title defense at the Pacific Life Open, despite being sidelined for more than four weeks with a hamstring injury.

The world No. 1 has not played since being forced to retire in the second set of her Pan Pacific Open semifinal against Serbia's Ana Ivanovic in Tokyo last month.

"It's good," U.S. Open champion Sharapova told reporters Wednesday when asked about her injury.

"It was a little worrying after I got back from Tokyo because it wasn't really going anywhere. It stayed the same for a week or so.

"But then it started getting better and I've been training fully for about 10 to 12 days now."

Although Sharapova experienced problems with a tight hamstring at the Australian Open in January when she lost to Serena Williams in the final, she believes the real damage was done in Japan.

"I hurt it in Tokyo," Sharapova said. "It was a sudden movement that I did after a serve when I landed in the second game of my match against Ana."

Sharapova, 19, seeded first at Indian Wells after crushing compatriot Yelena Dementyeva 6-1, 6-2 in last year's final, described her run to the Australian Open final as "kind of weird".

She was on the brink of losing to France's Camille Pin in the opening round before scraping through 6-3, 4-6, 9-7.

The elegant Russian led 5-0 in the third set before her opponent fought back to serve for the match at 7-6.

"It was a very strange tournament, from almost losing in the first round to get into the finals," Sharapova said.

"And then to do nothing there in the finals was kind of weird. You should be happy in a way, but then you have just lost in the final, but then you're happy because you almost lost in the first round."

Sharapova, the first Russian woman to reach the Australian Open final, was hammered 6-1, 6-2 by Williams.

"Looking back, it was one of those days where she played amazing tennis, flawless tennis," she recalled. "And I made a lot of errors. I just could not find a way to try something different.

"I felt the whole initiative started at the beginning of that match. I let her break after being up in the game and from that point she gained a lot of confidence and momentum."

Sharapova will launch her Indian Wells title defense against either Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson or Dutch player Michaella Krajicek after getting a bye into the second round.