Melbourne: Maria Sharapova revealed how she feared injury may have ended her career after her revival took another step forward when she reached the Australian Open final.
The Russian former champion proved she was firmly back among the best with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 over Petra Kvitova, avenging her defeat to the Czech in last year`s Wimbledon final and setting up a title match with Victoria Azarenka.
The elated Sharapova, who raised both arms in triumph after the win, said it showed she could once again compete at the highest level after shoulder surgery in 2008 and a series of later injuries.
The 24-year-old Russian won the Australian Open in 2008, the last of her three grand slam titles, before the operation kept her off court for nine months.
"It means so much to be back in a grand slam final, a stage I have been to before a few years ago here," Sharapova said. "It`s nice to get that far again after losing quite early in the last couple of years. It means a lot to me.
"I played someone that`s just had really great results and has beaten me the last couple of times. I just really wanted it today."
And Sharapova, who could also return to world number one if she lifts the trophy on Saturday, said there were times when she thought she may not be able to make it back to the top of the sport.
"As positive as I always try to be, you always question what you`re doing, obviously, because sometimes things work out and sometimes they don`t," she said.