Injury last year forced former world number-one Maria Sharapova from starting her season as she has done almost exclusively since she was 16 - here in Hong Kong. But the 22-year-old Russian is back this week for the Hong Kong Tennis Classic 2010 with a shoulder that has been rebuilt and, she said, even more appreciation for what she calls the best job in the world. 'If you spend any time away from the sport, you realise that once you get out there again and you're doing what you love, it really is a treat,' she said. 'If you have something that is part of your life on a daily basis taken away from you, you realise how fortunate you are when you get it back. As cheesy as it sounds, I am just really grateful.' She believes this is why two other former world number ones, Belgian's Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, have both returned to the sport after retiring. 'I'm not surprised at all,' Sharapova said. 'Our lives are pretty darn cool, especially when we are good at doing what we do. Being in a job where you're very competitive, it might be good when you have a break, but it will always get to the point when you miss it. That's what happened to me - I wanted it back.' Sharapova said she believed that simply having such former champions around the professional circuit could be only good for the game. 'All we need now is maybe Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport and we're going to be all set,' she laughed. 'It's great and in terms of storylines I am sure we'll develop rivalries with these past champions and the top players now. It's going to be pretty exciting.' Sharapova will lead Team Russia this week, alongside Vera Zvonareva and the veteran Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and says her injured shoulder - which kept her off the courts for 10months and saw her drop to 126 in the world rankings - is almost back to 100 per cent. Or as close as she will ever get it to being 100 per cent. 'For the rest of my life I'll be doing exercises,' said Sharapova, who is now ranked 14th in the world after claiming a title in Tokyo and some solid year-end efforts. 'I have to still keep getting it stronger and I'll have to always do that. But I am ready for the challenges [ahead].' Sharapova's Team Russia get the tournament underway against the Zheng Jie-led Team Asia Pacific, while Team Europe - led by world number-four Caroline Wozniacki - will take on the Venus Williams-led Team Americas on Thursday in the preliminary rounds. Organisers were still waiting for Zheng to arrive from Beijing last night after record snowfall caused chaos with flights. The event finishes on Saturday. This year also sees some of the legends of the men's game in town, with former grand-slam champions Stefan Edberg (Team Europe), Michael Chang (Team Americas) and Kafelnikov being joined by Thailand's former top-10 ranked Paradorn Srichaphan (Team Asia Pacific). The men said yesterday that they could not wait to renew old rivalries, with a little bit of banter livening up proceedings at the opening press conference. 'I had many successful years playing here,' Chang, 37, reflected at one stage. 'Sometimes I lost and sometimes I won. I think we actually played here in 1988, didn't we Stefan? But I can't seem to remember who won that match.' 'Well, I do,' the 43-year-old Swede volleyed back. Chang will hope to get his revenge at Victoria Park when the action starts tomorrow.