Beijing - French tennis player Richard Gasquet - who was
once banned after testing positive for cocaine - said on Wednesday that Maria
Sharapova will face a "tough" return when her 15-month doping ban
ends next year.
Gasquet faced an emotional comeback himself after he tested
positive for cocaine at the Miami Open in 2009.
"It is never easy to come back, of course. I think she had
15 months... it's quite long to come back (after that). Mentally and physically
it will be tough for her," Gasquet said in Beijing.
The 30-year-old Frenchman was banned for just two and a half
months after he persuaded the International Tennis Federation's tribunal panel
that he had inadvertently ingested cocaine during a nightclub kiss with a girl
who had taken the drug.
Sharapova had her two-year doping ban cut to 15 months by
the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday, after it
ruled she was not an "intentional doper".
The 29-year-old Russian tennis star - who is estimated to be
worth $200 million - said she aims to return to the tour in April next year.
At the time of his court comeback, Gasquet said that he had
been too upset to pick up a tennis racket during his suspension.
But his career has since rebounded. He has ended three of
the last four years inside the top ten and achieved his best ever Grand Slam
performance this year, reaching the quarter finals at Roland Garros.
"(Sharapova) need(s) to play enough and of course it
will be ok for her in the future. We will see... for every case it is
different," Gasquet added.