8 Jan 2011

Sharapova happy to return to Auckland despite early exit

8:27 pm on 8 January 2011

The top seed Maria Sharapova's flirtation with the New Zealand tennis public may have come to a premature end, but she says the tournament's served her well in her buildup to the first grand slam of the year, the Australian Open.

The three-time grand slam winner lost in straight sets to the unseeded Hungarian Greta Arn in the quarter-finals, who went on to win the tournament.

Sharapova opted for Auckland rather than her usual schedule of exhibibition matches but says just because she lost it doesn't take any gloss off the tournament and she would be happy to return.