Sharapova owes good run to staying in shape
Maria Sharapova eased into the semi-finals of Stuttgart’s WTA tournament after seeing off qualifier Anett Kontaveit yesterday for her third straight win on her comeback after a 15-month doping ban. The five-time grand slam winner has yet to drop a set in Stuttgart and powered past Estonia’s Kontaveit, ranked 73rd, for a 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final win in one hour, 23 minutes to book her spot in the last four of the competition.
This was another impressive display from the 30-year-old Russian, who hit four aces, 28 winners and just two double faults, while she converted five of her six break points.
“I served quite well and held my serve which gave me confidence, so I’m happy,” Sharapova said.
“We haven’t played each other before, so the first six games were just about working each other out.
“I kept myself in good shape, because once you lose it, it’s hard to get it back,” she added when asked about her fitness on court after 15 months out. The former world No 1 will now play France’s Kristina Mladenovic today for a place in tomorrow’s final. Unseeded Mladenovic, who had beaten world No 1 Angelique Kerber in the previous round, proved too good for Carla Suarez Navarro in her quarter-final as she prevailed 6-3, 6-2 in a match that lasted just 74 minutes. Sharapova only made the main draw for Stuttgart after being given a wild card as her ranking was wiped out after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
Her rivals have heavily criticised the decision to give her wild cards in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome with Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard branding her a “cheater” on Thursday.
There has been nothing but support for the Russian from the Stuttgart crowd with a few positive banners around the indoor arena. She has been in commanding form on clay here as Sharapova waits to learn on May 16 whether she will be granted a wild card to play next month’s French Open.