Sharapova Wins Slam Return, Ousts Halep at US Open
29 Aug 2017 - 13:45
Washington: Former world number one Maria Sharapova made a triumphant return to Grand Slam competition Monday after a 15-month doping ban, outlasting second-ranked Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at the US Open.
The 30-year-old Russian, who had only one hardcourt tuneup match due to a nagging forearm injury, swatted 60 winners with 64 unforced errors, setting the tempo and baffling Halep at times in a tension-packed thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Sharapova, who tested positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open, improved to 7-0 in her all-time rivalry with Halep, extending her mastery over the 25-year-old Romanian.
Sharapova, whose major titles include the 2006 US Open, advanced to a second-round matchup against Hungarian Timea Babos, whom she has never played.
Sharapova won only 5 of 22 break points in the match while Halep won 4 of 10 and produced only 15 winners against 14 unforced errors.
It was Sharapova's first Grand Slam match since a quarter-final loss to Serena Williams in last year's Australian Open.
Sharapova, ranked 146th, returned in April but the French Open snubbed Sharapova for a wildcard entry and she missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury.
Spanish third seed Muguruza defeated American Varvara Lepchenko 6-0, 6-3.
Muguruza can reach the US Open third round for the first time Wednesday by defeating China's Duan Ying-Ying.
Serbia's 78th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic upset Australian-born Konta 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, removing the only other top-10 player from Sharapova's draw quarter.
German fourth seed Alexander Zverev, the top-ranked player in his half of the draw, saved two set points in the first tie-break and downed stubborn Barbados qualifier and Slam debutant Darian King 7-6 (11/9), 7-5, 6-4.
Croatian fifth seed Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion and last month's Wimbledon runner-up, ousted 105th-ranked American Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.