Sharapova a controversial presence at Australian Open draw

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Australian Open organisers have defended the decision to have Maria Sharapova walk the trophy on to the court for the tournament draw.

With Kerber still competing at the tournament in Sydney, Tiley was happy to call on Sharapova. "In fairness to Maria, the adjudication has occurred on that", he said when asked about her drugs suspension and whether her presence at the ceremony was appropriate. "Maria deserved the opportunity".

A two-time major victor, Garbine Muguruza reached the quarters past year, while 2016 champion Angelique Kerber is coming off a poor 2017, although she may be finding form again.

Sharapova's involvement in the draw ceremony would be rendered irrelevant if she were to lose in the first round to the German Tatjana Maria, who is also aged 30 and is ranked one place above her in the world.

Sharapova, 30, now 47th in the rankings, believes she can be world No.1.'That is the ultimate goal, ' she said.

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Sharapova is Russia's most decorated tennis player having won a total of five Grand Slam tournaments, namely the Australian Open in 2008, the French Open in 2012 and 2014, Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006.

"That is the ultimate goal but I realise the depth of the game", she said.

But the Russian remains unseeded and has her work cut out to progress far in the draw, with 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Sharapova at the US Open, a potential second-round opponent and Kerber likely to be waiting in round three. "It's for anyone to grab".

He said: "It was an wonderful final, an fantastic moment for me in my life and it's great to be back here". I never contemplated retiring but when I was a teenager I never thought I'd play past 30 years old. "And here I am in a sport that has given me so much - and I hope to have a family too".

"It was a huge surprise".

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