Maria returns to the WTA tour
Maria Sharapova is playing her first tennis tournament since January 2015. She retuned to action in Stuttgart after a 15 month doping ban that ended on the 26th April.
She played her first match against Italy’s Roberta Vinci on Wednesday and won in straight sets 7:5 6;3
"It's the best feeling in the world, those first few seconds before you enter the arena. To know you were walking back out there was special.” Sharapova said. In her second match she faced a fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova. She showed her mental strength and took the tight opening set 7:5. Makarova had her chances for a 6:5 lead but missed a crucial backhand shot into the open court. Sharapova broke Makarova in the following game to take the set and cruised easily through the second 6:1 to earn herself a spot in the quarterfinals against a qualifier from Estonia Anett Kontaveit. She won easily in straight sets to reach semifinals in Stuttgart. "I served quite well, which gave me confidence. I'm happy," said Sharapova.
In the semifinals she met the current world no. 19, an in form French player Kristina Mladenovic. Sharapova took the first set 6:2 but it was Mladenovic who dug deep to take the second 7:5. In the decider Mladenovic saved 4 break points to hang on to her 5:2 lead. At 5:3 and Mladenovic serving for the match Sharapova broke back in an effort to turn the match to her advantage but Mladenovic kept pushing Sharapova again and converted her first match point for a 3:6 7:5 6:4 win. Mladenovic moves on to the final where she’ll face German Laura Siegemund who upset Simona Halep in straight sets in their semifinal clash.
Sharapova’s return to tennis has been successful. By reaching the semis in Stuttgart she will be ranked close to the TOP 250, and if she performs well in both Madrid and Rome, she can earn herself a spot for the French Open qualifying. The decision whether Sharapova will receive a wildcard in Paris will be announced on May 15th :tenns: