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Sharapova returns to tennis court with doubles defeat

Russia's Maria Sharapova returned to competitive tennis after months out with a shoulder injury to lose in doubles at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, U.S. The 2008 Australian Open champion and her compatriot Yelena Vesnina lost to Russia's Yekaterina Makarova and Tatyana Puchek of Belarus 1-6, 6-4, 7-10, with the match going to a super tie-break after the first two sets were split. "It's really good to be back. It seems like forever ago I last played," the official WTA Website quoted Sharapova as saying. "There are so many things I've missed about playing - the preparation for the match, going on the court and playing," the Russian said at a news conference after the match. "I started training a couple of months ago. It has been difficult. Right now I'm still working up to being 100% again." The 21-year-old withdrew from the WTA Rogers Cup in Montreal last July because of a shoulder injury. The injury forced Sharapova, who began 2008 by winning the year's first Grand Slam in Australia, to miss the U.S. Open, the Beijing Olympics and other major tennis events. She planned to make her comeback at the 2009 Australian Open in January, but later decided against it, saying that she was still "not ready to compete at the level required to win a Grand Slam." The former world No. 1, who is currently ranked 23rd in the Women Tennis Association's ranking list, underwent shoulder surgery last year and announced her comeback in December.

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