There seems to be no stopping Maria Sharapova. The Russian former world No 1 eased into the semifinals of the Stuttgart WTA tournament after seeing off qualifier Anett Kontaveit's challenge in straight sets. The Estonian world No 73 could barely challenge the five-time Grand Slam champion as the 30-year-old won 6-3, 6-4 in 83 minutes. Since Sharapova has returned to the Tour at this tournament in Stuttgart, after serving a 15-month doping ban for using meldonium, she is yet to drop a set. The quarterfinal display by her was impressive as her match stats included four aces, 28 winners and just two double faults.
"I served quite well and held my serve which gave me confidence, so I'm happy," said Maria Sharapova. "We haven't played each other before, so the first six games were just about working each other out. I kept myself in good shape, because once you lose it, it's hard to get it back," she added when asked about her fitness on court after 15 months out.
The former world No 1 will now play either France's Kristina Mladenovic or Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in Saturday's semifinal.
Sharapova only made the main draw for Stuttgart after being given a wild card as her ranking was wiped out after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. Her rivals have heavily criticised the decision to give her wild cards in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome with Canada's Eugenie Bouchard branding her a "cheater" on Thursday. There has been nothing but support for the Russian from the Stuttgart crowd with a few positive banners around the indoor arena.
(With AFP inputs)