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WTA Stuttgart semifinal preview: Maria Sharapova vs Kristina Mladenovic


The win over Roberta Vinci - 7-5, 6-3 - wasn't the main talking point, it was all about the Russian's first appearance in competitive action in 15 months, since her doping ban. The 23-year-old world number 18 stood her ground when she found herself 0-40 in the next game, moving to 5-2, but a disastrous service game allowed the Russian briefly to come back before Mladenovic completed a memorable win to reach her first Stuttgart final with another break.

"I kept myself in good shape, because once you lose it, it's hard to get it back".

But she held her composure and went 6-5 ahead, having defended three break points, as her superbly weighted drop shot wrong-footed Sharapova.

The Frenchwoman had been touted as one of France's elite players for quite some time and now she is starting to fulfil that potential, beginning to deliver on the singles court as well as the doubles court, where she is a three-time Grand Slam champion.

However, not everyone has been happy to see Sharapova back on the court.

Bouchard called Sharapova a cheater, saying, "I don't think that's right".

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Maria Sharapova needs just one more win to book her place in French Open qualifying after beating Anett Kontaveit to reach the semi-finals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

Kontaveit, ranked 73, appeared a kind draw for a last-eight clash but the 21-year-old has been in fine form and knocked out French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in the second round.

Makarova, who had lost all of her six previous matches against Sharapova, never seemed to recover and the second set was one-way traffic. The Russian broke early in the second set, too, and then again for a 4-2 lead.

In the final Mladenovic will face another wild card player, Laura Siegemund, who defeated the fourth seeded player Simona Halep 6/4 7/5.

"I haven't played her, she is one of the few girls on the tour I haven't faced yet", said Sharapova. While some players contend she should work her way up without the help of wild cards from tournaments, others believe that she has served her punishment for doping and she was entitled to play, ESPN reported. I'm visualizing tactics better, as well, focusing on patterns.

"I am past "the lessons", I have done numerous interviews about the case and this is a new chapter in my career and that's how I want to move forward", she said.

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