An extended break from tennis has left Maria Sharapova feeling in good physical shape as she gets ready to return to the hard courts.
Maria Sharapova is confident that an extended break after Wimbledon will stand her in good stead to challenge for titles in the remainder of the season.
World number two Sharapova has not played competitively since losing to eventual champion Serena Williams in the semi-finals at SW19, and missed the Rogers Cup in Toronto last week citing a right leg strain as the reason for her absence.
The Russian will return to action at the Western Southern Open - an event she won in 2011 - in Cincinnati this week as part of her preparations for the US Open, and believes her recuperation from a tough run in Europe will prove an advantage in the coming months.
"I'm feeling quite well. I always enjoy the little break after Wimbledon. I always give myself a little chance to regroup, it's kind of the middle of the year and a long time on the road with the European trip so it's just nice to settle into a normal life," she said.
"I have a bit of a training base but yet enjoy being around family and friends. Having missed Toronto I'm quite excited to be back in Cincinnati, an event that I have done quite well at over the years.
"It's really important as an athlete, you want to commit yourself the best that you can and prepare yourself the best you can for every single week.
"But there are many weeks in the year that we compete at and it's always nice to take a break, and not watch any tennis or follow any scores or not look at any draws and just settling back and working a few things in your game, really using it as a chance to build up your body for the rest of the year."
World number three Simona Halep will also play in Cincinnati having reached final in Toronto last week, where she retired in a third-set decider against Belinda Bencic due to the heat.
Halep can replace Sharapova as the world number two this week, which would be a timely rise given that the second-ranked player in the world next week could only face Williams in the final of the US Open.
The Romanian is feeling more at home on the hard courts after suffering early exits at the French Open and Wimbledon this year.
"I had a good week in Toronto. I played some good tennis and had some very tough matches. Yes the heat was a little bit too much for me," she said.
"I feel better on hard court. I feel more aggressive, I can be more aggressive. Normally I'm fast on court and hard court is a good surface to play on it. I have confidence that I can have a great game on this court, it's better than clay court or grass court."
Halep will move up to number two in the world if she is crowned champion and Sharapova wins her first match, or by reaching the final if the Russian loses her opening game.