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Maria Sharapova: 'Injury helped me focus'

Maria Sharapova, who recently spent two months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, claims that her time out of the sport has contributed to her impressive start at the Australian Open.

World number two Maria Sharapova has claimed that spending two months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury aided her mental preparation for the Australian Open.

The 25-year-old Russian, who won the Melbourne Grand Slam in 2008, has lost just four games during her first three matches at this year's tournament.

"The reason I started so well in this tournament is because I knew I had to," said Sharapova. "It's tough. I hadn't played a professional match, a real match, in over two months.

"Coming into a Grand Slam it's not always the best-case scenario, but I was coming in knowing I was healthy and ready to go. I was much more mentally prepared."

Sharapova will face Kirsten Flipkens on Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals.

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Russia's Maria Sharapova serves to Venus Williams during their third round clash at the Australian Open tennis championship on January 18, 2013
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