Maria Sharapova's Australian Open return could barely have been better timed.
The Russian missed last year's event in Melbourne due to a doping ban, but is a regular contender at the season's opening grand slam.
In a sign of things to come, the withdrawal of Serena Williams – not ready to return after giving birth to her first child in September – took away significant star power from the women's draw.
But in a grand slam potentially set to suffer more significant losses – Andy Murray is already out and other big names are under injury clouds – the return of Sharapova to Melbourne Park is perfectly timed.
The 2008 champion and five-time major winner may not be overly popular with her rivals, but she is still a drawcard among supporters.
A slam winner as a teenager, Sharapova quickly rose to stardom, and she is a regular contender in Melbourne.
The 30-year-old reached at least the semi-finals in four straight years beginning in 2005, completing that run by winning her third major.
She has been a three-time runner-up in Australia, including losing the 2015 decider to Williams.
That Sharapova's return is a major boost is a concern when it comes to the rest of the women's field.
World number one Simona Halep is yet to win a major and the Romanian has a poor record in Melbourne, losing in the opening round four times in seven appearances.
Caroline Wozniacki is still searching for a major breakthrough and has been to the semi-finals at this slam just once.
A two-time major winner, Garbine Muguruza reached the quarters last year, while 2016 champion Angelique Kerber is coming off a poor 2017, although she may be finding form again.
With no Serena in the field, the opportunities open up again in what should be an entertaining and unpredictable draw.
But Sharapova's Melbourne return at least adds a major drawcard, and that is just what was needed.
|Dyche commits to Burnley to 2022|
|Patriots elect to wear white in Super Bowl LII|
|Kobe Bryant´s ´Dear Basketball´ short film nominated for Oscar|
|Zidane tells Real Madrid fans to stop jeering Benzema|
|Players must manage their own schedules, says Cilic|
|Lucas Moura free to leave PSG, confirms Emery|
|Kenedy set for Newcastle as Conte waits for window to close|
|Bouchard agrees to another Super Bowl date|
|Neymar and Mbappe in doubt for PSG´s clash with Guingamp|
|Targeting the backhand, attacking the net and 83 winners: How Cilic subdued Nadal|
|Mascherano to leave Barcelona as Hebei move looms|
|Wozniacki reaches Australian Open semi-finals in early hours|
|Conte rules Morata and Fabregas out of Arsenal clash|
|Tamim and Shakib leave Zimbabwe facing tri-nation exit|
|Clarets snap up Lennon from Everton|
|Too many people are getting injured - Nadal frustrated by Aus Open retirement|
|Dzeko set to face Sampdoria despite Chelsea reports|
|It´s really unfortunate for Rafa - Cilic sympathises with injured Nadal|
|Zidane rejects suggestions he won ´battle´ over Kepa|
|Surprise semi-finalist Mertens ready for more Melbourne magic|
|Sorry Stars fail to shine again as Sixers claim consolation win|
|Injured Nadal bows out of Australian Open to Cilic|
|Ramos trains for Real Madrid as wounded Ronaldo works indoors|
|Wijnaldum admits Liverpool ´gave a half away´ against Swansea|
|I know what it feels like to be Andy Murray - Edmund revels in limelight|
|Wenger: Arsenal are about values, not millions|
|Gracious Dimitrov says Edmund deserved to win|
|Aubameyang to Arsenal not close, says Wenger|
|Hernandez open to West Ham exit|
|Superstar Sanchez will lift Manchester United squad, says Giggs|
|De Bruyne 2023: The sensational displays that won Manchester City´s talisman a new deal|
|How new recruit Sanchez compares to Manchester United´s forwards|
|Edmund claims shock win over Dimitrov to reach Aus Open semis|
|Cousins posts one of greatest stat lines in NBA history|
|Rockets close gap on Warriors by beating Heat|
|Lucas ´not happy´ at PSG|
|Svitolina reveals hip injury struggles|
|´Dangerous´ Cilic can beat Nadal, says Philippoussis|
|Mertens stuns Svitolina in Melbourne|
|Stones: Quadruple chase will take its toll on City|
|Klopp sorry for fan confrontation|
|Cowboys VP Jones calls out Bryant for sideline eruptions|
|Durant: Capela talking trash because of his easy role with Rockets|
|Buffon guaranteed to start on Juventus return, assures Allegri|
|Philander hails ´phenomenal talent´ Ngidi|
|Stokes to join England squad after court appearance|
|Giants hire Shurmur as next head coach|
|Liverpool´s win over City feels like six months ago for Klopp|
|Swansea had to make ´Formula One´ Liverpool uncomfortable - Carvalhal|
|Smith unconvinced by Kohli leadership|
|Swansea City 1 Liverpool 0: Mawson ends Reds´ unbeaten run|
|Bucks fire Jason Kidd and seek ´fresh approach´|
|Juventus 1 Genoa 0: Douglas Costa goal closes the gap to leaders Napoli|
|Lingard knew Sanchez ´wanted to come Milly Rock with the mandem´|
|Wenger ecstatic with ´committed and focused´ Mkhitaryan after Sanchez swap|
|Sanchez on United move: I needed to feel loved|
|Sanchez takes aim at his critics as he says his Arsenal goodbyes|
|Tiger returns to happy hunting ground at Torrey Pines|
|How will Alexis Sanchez compare to Manchester United´s post-Ferguson big deals?|
|Cardinals hire Panthers DC Steve Wilks as head coach|
|Gunning for a move - Sanchez the latest big name to quit underachieving Arsenal|
|Stoger wants speedy Aubameyang resolution as Arsenal circle|
|WATCH: See how Manchester United welcomed Sanchez|
|WATCH: Treatment-room footage of Ronaldo head wound released|
|Always my intention to stay - De Bruyne thrilled by new City deal|
|Inter snap up Rafinha on loan from Barcelona|
|Sanchez on Man Utd move: I am joining the biggest club in the world|
|The big debate: Who wins from the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan deal?|
|Mkhitaryan wants to ´create history´ after ´dream´ Arsenal move|
|Do Arsenal or Man Utd get the better deal? Sanchez v Mkhitaryan in Opta numbers|