Stuttgart - Maria Sharapova was installed as the bookmakers'
joint favourite to capture the French Open on Friday despite the Russian star
not even being guaranteed a place in the season's second Grand Slam event.
Sharapova only returned to action in Stuttgart this week
after a 15-month doping ban left her without a world ranking and depending on
wild cards to enter the main draws of tournaments, including the French Open
where she has twice been champion.
The 30-year-old will learn on May 16 whether or not Roland
Garros organisers will grant her a wild card.
But bookmakers have no doubt that she will not only play in
Paris but go on to win the title especially in the absence of Serena Williams,
Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova.
Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfred and bet365 made five-time major
winner and former world number one Sharapova 6/1 favourite, the same odds as
Romania's Simona Halep who has yet to claim a Grand Slam title.
Sharapova has looked impressive on her return, easing into
the semi-finals in Stuttgart without dropping a set in three matches.