Tennis  

Sharapova wins again in Stuttgart but Konta is out

(FILES) This file photo taken on January 27, 2015 shows Russia’s Maria Sharapova (R) shaking hands with Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard (L) after Sharapova’s victory in their women’s singles match on day nine of the 2015 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.<br />Eugenie Bouchard attacked Maria Sharapova on April 26, 2017 as a “cheater” over her return from a drugs ban and suggested the Russian should be kicked out of tennis for life. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL CROCK /

Russia’s Maria Sharapova says she is “way above” responding to criticism of her comeback by rivals after reaching the quarter-finals of her first WTA event following a 15-month doping ban.

Sharapova called a “cheat” by Eugenie Bouchard, beat Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1 at the Stuttgart Open, for which she received a wildcard entry.

When asked about Bouchard’s comments, she said: “I’m looking forward.” Meanwhile, Britain’s Johanna Konta lost 6-3 7-5 to Anastasija Sevastova.

In October, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Sharapova was not an “intentional doper”. The five-time Grand Slam winner dominated Makarova, ranked 43 in the world, wrapping up the victory in just one hour, 20 minutes.

Sharapova was powerful on serve, as she had been in Wednesday’s win over Italy’s Roberta Vinci, but struggled at times with her return.
Once she had claimed the first set with a late break of serve, she powered through the second, breaking twice before wrapping up the match with an ace.

In the last eight, the 30-year-old faces Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who was a 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 victor over Spanish fifth seed Garbine Muguruza.

Meanwhile, British number one Konta is out after her second-round defeat by Latvia’s Sevastova. Wednesday’s first-round victory over Naomi Osaka was just Konta’s third WTA Tour win on clay.

She began well on Thursday with a break of Sevastova’s serve in the first game but lost the next three games and did not hold her own serve until the fourth attempt.

Sevastova, ranked 19 places below Konta at 26, produced three successive aces en route to clinching the opening set before recovering from 3-1 down in the second to level.

A missed forehand opportunity then cost Konta as she was broken in the 11th game and Sevastova served out the victory with her sixth ace.

Had Konta won, she would have faced Romania’s Simona Halep in the third round. Those two were involved in Sunday’s controversial Fed Cup meeting in Constanta. Konta beat Sorana Cirstea after leaving the court in tears but found Halep a tougher opponent, losing 6-1 6-3.



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