Sharapova wins on return from doping ban

She was originally banned for two years but that was reduced on appeal.

Former world number one Maria Sharapova eased past fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1 on Thursday to reach the Stuttgart Grand Prix quarterfinals and continue her winning comeback from a 15-month doping ban.

The Frenchwoman claimed past year that other players were "saying she's a cheater" following Sharapova's sanction.

"Some other players also got the right to come back [after a positive test], but they didn't get invitations to tournaments", the world number 19 said. So, I just think from the WTA it sends the wrong message to young kids.

"I haven't played her, she is one of the few girls on the tour I haven't faced yet", said Sharapova.

The former Grand Slam champion has been handed wildcards for tournaments in Madrid and Rome and will learn next month whether she'll be given a wildcard to play at the French Open which starts on 22 May. She said she failed to realize the heart drug she had taken for more than a decade for various health issues had been added to the prohibited list of the World Anti-Doping Agency from January 1, 2016.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam victor who is making her comeback in Stuttgart after a 15-month doping ban, backed the new measures announced by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). "I returned better today, but I know I can still improve that tremendously". Sharapova gave a terse answer when asked if Mladenovic's comments would motivate her in Saturday's showdown: "Not at all". Sharapova took control of the second set after an early break and held off three break points in her following service game.

Sharapova received a wild card for the tournament after having lost all her ranking points in the wake of her suspension.

Johanna Konta was bundled out in straight sets by Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova, while Carla Suarez Navarro was too good for Elena Vesnina and Germany's Laura Siegemund upset eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova with a 6-4 6-3 win. "I didn't see anything new, I think she is just playing her game really well, like she did in the past".

"I'm already visualising the match before I play and it's a great feeling to have".

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