and regaining it again in 2008, the Russian underwent a shoulder surgery to repair a tear in her shoulder.
Plagued by reoccurring shoulder problems, Sharapova is only this spring showing some of her best tennis since 2008.
At the Pacific Life Open last month, Sharapova reached the semifinals before losing to the world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
In Miami this week, Sharapova upset the fourth seeded Samatha Stosur of Australia in straight sets in the fourth round before ousting the giant-killer Andrea Petkovic of Germany in the semifinals.
And with the former teen queens and major television draws Venus and Serena Williams of the USA both sidelined due to injuries, Sharapova could step directly into the WTA Tour spotlight for several months to come.
Monday, after her strong showing at Miami, the Russian is projected to regain a top ten ranking regardless of the outcome of today’s match.
But the big baseline hitter Sharapova will need to keep her errors under control today against Azarenka who plays a powerful baseline game as well. Azarenka is tied with Sharapova head to head 2-2 and won the pair’s last meeting in 2010 6-4, 6-1.