Triumphs have defined her in the past. Injuries and shock exits describe Maria Sharapova's tennis now. On Monday (January 20), the 26-year-old third seed crashed out of Australian Open in the fourth round after losing to 20th seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia. It was technically an 'upset' but not many seemed perturbed.
Sharapova has been a dominant force in international tennis for over 10 years. But her lack of consistency and the inability to win major tournaments in the last year or so have led many to believe that the she is past her prime. It certainly looked that way during her 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 loss to Cibulkova - who is two years her junior. The 6 feet 1 inch player appeared rather frail as her serves backfired repeatedly with as many as seven double-faults in the third set.
It wasn't just in this match that Sharapova struggled. Her short script in this year's first Grand Slam was filled with chapters titled 'struggle', 'sweat', 'toil' and 'torment'. In the first round, she cruised past Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3, 6-4 but it was clear that her glaring errors were inexcusable. And the same errors became were highlighted once again when she barely survived her second round match against unseeded Italian Karin Knapp. It took her 3 hours and 28 minutes to force a 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 win. Her third round match was slightly easier but Sharapova admitted she gave a few chances to Alize Cornet during her 6-1, 7-6 (8/6) victory.