Johannesburg [South Africa]: Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova’s comeback on the tennis court after 15-months of doping ban was halted as she lost in the semi-finals of the Stuttgart Open on Saturday.
Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner, fell to one of her biggest critic Kristina Mladenovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Mladenovic will now face Laura Siegemund in Sunday’s final.
“I’m not angry, I’d have loved to have used the opportunity when I was ahead in the second set, so I had a bit of a let-down which allowed her to get back in the match, gain confidence and play well,” Sport24 quoted Sharapova as saying.
The Russian, however, refused to blame a lack of fitness for her defeat and said she was happy with the way she has made a comeback to the tennis court.
“If at the start of the week I’d said I’d be in this position, I’d be pretty happy with that,” she said.
“The way I played, I was really happy with that. You are never sure what level you are going to come onto the court with, but I feel this is a great base with which I started here,” the former world number one added.
The five-time Grand Slam champion has also been handed wild cards for Madrid (May 7-13) and Rome (May 15-21) tournaments.
Whether Sharapova will receive a wildcard at Roland Garros will be known just a week before qualifying begins for the second major of the season, which is slated to be held from May 28 to June 11.
Sharapova’s initial two-year ban was earlier reduced to 15 months following an appeal to the court of arbitration for sport, which concluded she had not intended to cheat. (ANI)