Maria Sharapova closes on French Open qualifying spot after reaching Stuttgart semis

Sharapova was initially banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) before her suspension was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in October.

The 30-year-old Russian broke again early in the second set and, despite twice dropping her serve in a late bout of nerves, she broke the Estonian again, sealing victory on the first match-point as Kontaveit sent a forehand long.

"I'm not someone that uses that as part of my comeback", Sharapova said.

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

The U.S. -based Russian will next play the victor of the quarter-final between France's Kristina Mladenovic and Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro. The Russian, in spite of prolonged simple, demonstrated an impressive level of tennis Maria served 11 aces and gave almost four dozen of points won, etc.

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However, not everyone has been happy to see Sharapova back on the court. "It is a journey that officially starts today and I look forward to playing as many matches as I can", said Sharapova, the second highest paid female athlete a year ago according to Forbes.

Russian Maria Sharapova returns the ball to Kristina Mladenovic from France during the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, Saturday, April 29, 2017.

Per The New York Post, Maria Sharapova was banned from playing professionally when she tested positive for meldonium.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal defeated Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open while Andy Murray struggled to join him on Thursday.

At the Istanbul Cup in Turkey, number three seed Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania battled past home player Basak Eraydin 2-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-1 to make the semi-finals.

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"I haven't played her, she is one of the few girls on the tour I haven't faced yet", said Sharapova. To know I would be walking back into the arena was very special.

It took 15 minutes for Sharapova to win her first game but she gradually improved her service, started attacking Vinci's and clinched the first set after an hour.

The Canadian player views Sharapova's suspension as a mere slap on the wrist, and told Turkish broadcaster TRT World that Sharapova being allowed to play is "so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way and are true", according to the Los Angeles Times.

"I'm really enjoying myself", she said.

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