Sharapova advances to 2nd round in Madrid Open

Posted May 08, 2017

The Madrid rematch could be a major grudge match.

Maria Sharapova set up a mouth-watering clash with Eugenie Bouchard at the Mutua Madrid Open after recovering from a set down to beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

The 30-year-old Russian has beaten Bouchard in all four of their prior meetings, most notably a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, victory in the 2014 Roland Garros semifinals.

Sharapova has sent the Caja Magica into frenzy from the moment she arrived in Madrid and her practice sessions have been jam-packed by fans.

And despite consistent criticism of high-profile figures in the sport over the ease with which she has been welcomed back, the five-time Grand Slam champion claimed to be in her element.

Bouchard told reporters last month that Sharapova was a "cheater", and intimated she should have received a life ban after testing positive for meldonium.

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The 2014 victor was accused of being a "cheat" by Bouchard ahead of her return to action last month following 15 months out for a breach of anti-doping rules. "I think I did pretty well, I finished strong". While Lucic-Baroni hit a total of 41 winners, she hit nearly just as many unforced errors (34), compared to Sharapova's 16 winners and just 10 unforced errors. "Once I step on the court, everything will be to the side". But then there's a little bit more around.

She is also expected to play in Rome later this month, which she said, at the moment, the most important thing for her is just to play matches.

On Sunday, top-seeded Angelique Kerber, defending champion Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova, and Garbine Muguruza all play first-round matches.

"I've been in the public eye since I was a very young girl", Sharapova said.

"Yeah, it's not the way I think".

"I love being quiet about it and letting everyone around speak or have the noise", she added.

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"I hope I can play Maria", she said, as quoted on TennisWorldUSA.

"When you're out of the game for a long time you just want to play as many games as possible", said Sharapova.

"I feel like it's still a learning experience, and it's still just getting back in the groove and understanding what I need to work on and improve", she said.

Playing the fifth match of her comeback, Sharapova converted seven of 19 break points and exploited eight double faults from the Australian Open semifinalist. Eighth seed and 2015 finalist in Madrid, Svetlana Kuznetsova, beat Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 6-3.

The Croat, who won her first title at the age of 15 and reached the semis of Wimbledon at 17, faded from the tour after 2000 as she suffered a series of personal problems, but after rebuilding her career on the ITF circuit, she began her climb back a decade later.

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