In Melbourne at the Australian Open in January, Sharapova's hard and consistent groundstokes powered her to a second round romp over former number
one Lindsay Davenport of the USA 6-1, 6-3. Sharapova also defeated the 2008 Olympic gold medalist and fellow Russian Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-0 before shocking the at the time world number one Justine Henin of Belgium 6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
In the Melbourne semifinals and finals, Sharapova topped Serbia's best; the current world number one Jelena Jankovic and French Open champion Ana Ivanovic respectively.
After her strong Australian Open showing, Sharapova reached a WTA Tour ranking of 5th before falling to her current ranking of 9th. Should Sharapova miss the 2009 Melbourne grand slam, she would likely fall out of the top 20 in the WTA Tour rankings due to the 1000 rankings points she is set to defend.
In between taking her other two singles titles of the year in Doha, Qatar and Amelia Island, Florida,
at Indian Wells, California Sharapova aggravated bursitis in her shoulder. Then after early losses at the French Open and Wimbledon, Sharapova withdrew from a fourth round match at Montreal in July, her last tournament of this year.
Sharapova since was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff tendon in her right shoulder and opted for a training program of conditioning and strength instead of surgery.
Max Eisenbud, Sharapova's agent, indicated Tuesday that Sharapova would return to competitive tennis at a January 7th-10th Hong Kong
exhibition before competing at the Australian Open which begins January 19th.
In 2004 at age 17, Sharapova scored her breakthrough performance at Wimbledon, defeating Serena Williams of the USA in the final. Then
in 2006, Sharapova posted her second of three overall grand slam wins, taking the US Open title over the finalist Henin.