Melbourne: Russian star Maria Sharapova on Monday revealed she was struggling with a hip injury but refused to blame it for her shock loss at the Australian Open and insisted she will bounce back. The four-time major-winner was knocked out in the fourth round by Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, the second upset in as many days after world number one Serena Williams was sent packing.
Third seed Sharapova took a medical timeout between the second and third sets and she said her left hip was troubling her after two tough matches earlier in the tournament. "I have a bit of a strain the trainer told me in the hip area," said the Russian, who only came back from a shoulder injury at the Brisbane International this month.
"I mean, those aches and pains are expected when you spend a long time on the court. You just have to play through it."
She added: "I think it was just because I played a lot. This is only my second tournament back, so it was those types of things that are expected. You just have to find a way to block them out." (Also read: Azarenka storms into quarters)
Sharapova had endured two tough matches before meeting the Slovak, including a three-and-a-half hour epic in intense heat in the second round against Italy's Karin Knapp.
She admitted she had not been playing well, but said it was just good to be back in action after the shoulder injury sidelined her for months. "I think it's a success (the tournament) in terms of that I'm back and that I'm healthy. That's quite important. Otherwise I wouldn't give myself a chance to play," she said. (Related: Halep floors Jankovic)
"So on that note, yeah, I have to look at the positives and see where I have come from in four or five months. I haven't played a lot of tennis in those six months.
"So I certainly would have loved to play a little bit more before playing a Grand Slam, but this is the chance that I was given.
"I'm smart enough to be able to take it and acknowledge that I'm still pretty lucky to be in the draw and giving myself a chance to try to win it."
She added that coming back from tough losses can be the making of a player -- and she vowed to bounce back stronger. "It's easy just to be successful, but it's how many times you're able to come back from the tough moments and losses and injuries that really define who you are as an athlete,' she said. (Bryan twins suffer early exit)
With her boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov still in the tournament, the world number three, who will be working for NBC at the Sochi Olympics next month, said she wasn't sure about her immediate plans. "I have never played a typical full schedule maybe compared to other players," she said.
"I have been really smart about my schedule, and I think that's worked for me in the past and I tried to stick to the same things.
"Every year you have to adjust to how your body and your mind feels. Just because I missed, you know a large part of last year doesn't mean I'm going to make up for it with more tournaments.
"That's never been my thing."