MOSCOW, October 17. /TASS/. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, who arrived in Moscow to take part in the 2017 VTB Kremlin Cup immediately after winning a tennis tournament in China, deserves "to be thanked," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Tuesday.
Sharapova was knocked out from the 2017 VTB Kremlin Cup tournament in Moscow after suffering 7-6 (7-3); 6-4 straight sets defeat on Tuesday to 8-seed Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.
"It was very pleasant that Sharapova arrived in Moscow making her fans happy," Mutko said in an interview with TASS. "She enjoyed a significant support today during the match."
The annual VTB Kremlin Cup tennis tournament is held on October 14-22 at Moscow’s Olympic Stadium and puts $1.6 million in prize money up for grabs.
"It is sad that she lost today, but it is obvious that she is getting back into shape," he said. "She must be winning matches like this if she was in her best shape, but she keeps gaining and will be back again at her best level."
On Sunday, Sharapova won the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) final game against Belarus’s Aryna Sabalenka in China’s Tianjin, scoring 7:5, 7:6 (10:8). The 2017 WTA Tianjin Open was the first tournament for Sharapova to win since May 2015.
"We need to thank Maria for arriving yesterday at five in the morning from China and already hitting the court today (in Moscow) fighting until the very end," the Russian deputy premier added.
This year’s Kremlin Cup was the fourth for Sharapova and she had been granted a wildcard to enter the tournament in the Russian capital. She previously played at the Kremlin Cup tournaments in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and her best result was the quarterfinal stage.
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.
After a 15-month long suspension for violating anti-doping regulations, Sharapova made her comeback to tennis in April at Stuttgart, where she stormed into the semifinals round of the tournament.