Maria Sharapova picked up a second win in as many days on her comeback from a 15-month doping ban, beating fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova at the Stuttgart WTA tournament. The 30-year-old five-time Grand Slam winner dominated Makarova, ranked 43 in the world, for a 7-5, 6-1 win in just one hour, 20 minutes, in the second-round tie. "I'm happy. I executed my game plan and I was solid," said a relieved Sharapova, whose comeback is deeply controversial and has a wild card to play in the Stuttgart event where she has been a champion three times.
On Friday she will face Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who beat French Open champion and fifth-seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the second round, for a place in the semifinals."I haven't played her, she is one of the few girls on the tour I haven't faced yet," said Sharapova. "She has been playing some great tennis here and this is a great opportunity for both of us."
There was none of the rust or nerves Sharapova showed in beating Roberta Vinci 7-5, 6-3 in Wednesday's first round - the first day she was eligible to play after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
This was a far more polished, confident display from Sharapova, who hit nine aces and 29 winners against Makarova. But there is still work to do before facing Kontaveit as Sharapova also had seven double faults and made 19 unforced errors.
Having also been given wild cards to play at the Madrid and Rome tournaments, Sharapova must wait until May 16 to learnt if she will get a wild card for the French Open. However, there appeared to be no end to the criticism Sharapova has encountered on her comeback, Eugenie Bouchard being the latest player branding her a 'cheater'.