WTA Tour

Sharapova draws Vinci with critic Radwanska waiting

2017-04-22 21:57
Maria Sharapova (AFP)

Berlin - Maria Sharapova was drawn to face veteran Italian Roberta Vinci in her opening match at next week's Stuttgart tournament as the five-time Grand Slam champion returns from a 15-month doping ban.

The former world number one was controversially handed a wildcard into the claycourt event after her suspension wiped out her ranking.

If Sharapova gets through her opener on Wednesday - the first day she is eligible to play - against the 34-year-old Vinci, she could face Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, one of her fiercest critics, in the second round.

Radwanska, who starts against Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, blasted Sharapova in an interview on Friday when she insisted that the sport's poster girl should not be awarded wild cards after her doping ban.

"This kind of entry (wild cards) into the tournament should apply to players who dropped in the ranking because of injury, illness or some other random event. Not for those suspended for doping. Maria should recover some other way, starting with smaller events," Radwanska said.

"So far she hasn't been invited to slams in Paris (French Open) and London (Wimbledon) and in my opinion that's how it should remain. She should win her spot by playing well."

Sharapova was banned for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open but had her suspension cut to 15 months on appeal.

The Russian turned 30 on April 19, but on the Stuttgart tournament's website she describes her return as her "nicest present. I'm getting my sport back."

As an ambassador for Porsche, who also sponsor the event, Sharapova's return is the highlight of the tournament's 40th anniversary celebrations.

"I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments, I can't wait to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love," she said having won three Stuttgart finals.

Tournament director Markus Guenthardt knows Sharapova's presence will boost ticket sales for the indoor tournament.

"Her return in the Porsche Arena is a fabulous present for our fantastic spectators and is certain to be one of the sporting and emotional highlights of our anniversary tournament," he said.

Sharapova can only play her first match on Wednesday as that is when her ban comes to an end. As a result, she has to practice away from the venue.

Top seed Angelique Kerber has a bye in the first round and will face either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or Kristina Mladenovic in her opener.

Read more on:    wta tour  |  maria sharapova  |  tennis
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Vote

Which is your favourite Grand Slam of the year?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

With the Absa Premiership nearing its conclusion, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Bidvest Wits hold them off? A bridge too far for new boys Cape Town City FC? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.