Maria Sharapova says she's still lacking confidence but her game and her shoulder are improving as she starts the hard-court season.
Sharapova fell in three sets to Anett Kontaveit in the first round of Toronto, where she received a wild card for the event.
The Russian had retired with an arm injury in the first round of Wimbledon, having also had a small procedure for a shoulder injury that had her sidelined for several weeks towards the beginning of the season.
"I'm still building the confidence and my form and that's something that's just going to come with time and with match play. Unfortunately, I just haven't had that yet," she said. "You know, I'm going to be coming up against tough players, long matches, and there are always going to be tests. And I always have to play my best tennis no matter who I play.
"So it will just take time to build that confidence again."
Sharapova hasn't won a title since claiming Tianjin in 2017. (Getty Images)
But Sharapova was relatively happy with her performance in a more than two-and-a-half hour three-setter, reflecting the training she has been doing.
"I think technically I worked on a lot of things," she said. "And, you know, now I feel like my shoulder is getting a little bit stronger. I worked on that for many months."
Sharapova had been coached by Thomas Hogstedt, but appears to now be working at least part-time with Riccardo Piatti, the veteran Italian coach of Borna Coric.
"I spent a few weeks in Europe working with Riccardo Piatti, which was really nice and just a different perspective from someone that didn't expect me," she said laughingly, adding that the session had not been planned. "But we all had a great time. I worked really hard, but I felt—really, I felt like I had fun, which was really important. But, yeah, he'll be at the US Open, which will be nice."
Sharapova has also received a wild card into Cincinnati.