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Sharapova to play fellow Russian at Madrid tennis tournament’s opener

May 05, 15:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Sharapova’s performance at the tournament in Stuttgart returned her to the WTA rankings

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© EPA/RONALD WITTEK

MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova will be playing her opening game at the tennis tournament in Madrid, which kicks off on Saturday, against fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the WTA (Women Tennis Association) press service reported on Friday.

After sitting out a provisional 15-month suspension, Sharapova, 30, made an impressive comeback last week at the tennis tournament in Stuttgart knocking out all of her opponents up to the semifinals.

Sharapova’s performance at the tournament in Stuttgart returned her to the WTA rankings, from which she was excluded this past October, earning the tennis player her current 262nd standing. Her next opponent, 25-year-old Pavlyuchenkova is currently ranked 25th in the WTA ratings.

Although having no place in the WTA rankings earlier in the year due to the previously imposed suspension, the world’s former No. 1 Sharapova was granted wildcards for tennis tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome, which raised some eyebrows in the tennis world.

The tennis player was initially set to serve a two-year suspension for violating anti-doping regulations starting January 26, 2016. However, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on October 4, 2016 to cut her suspension term from 24 to 15 months.

Early last year, Sharapova announced that doping tests revealed the presence of the banned performance enhancing drug, meldonium, in her body. Following the announcement, the tennis star was provisionally suspended from all tennis-related activities, including the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Sharapova is Russia’s most decorated tennis player having won a total of five Grand Slam tournaments, namely the Australian Open in 2008, the French Open in 2012 and 2014, Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006.

She also clinched the silver in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and was the 2008 Federations Cup champion.

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