Maria Sharapova wins first match after return to tennis from doping ban

Sharapova, similar to the day prior when she claimed she was "way above" engaging in war of words with tennis starlet Eugenie Bouchard, said she will not use Mladenovic's rip jobs as added motivation in their semifinal.

"It was our first meeting on clay, which is better for her, and in Stuttgart, which is even better for her", Pliskova said. My results have spoken for everything that needs to be said.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, will now face the challenge of France's Kristina Mladenovic in the last four.

While some players question the wild card given to former No. 1 Maria Sharapova at the Stuttgart Open and two other top-level tournaments, one WTA campaigner stepped up her criticism, saying the Russian netter should be banned for life from tennis for cheating. Others have also had the right to come back and play tennis, but with a different road - they wouldn't get invitations to tournaments.

The Russian, playing her first tournament since a 15-month suspension, beat Estonian Kontaveit 6-4 6-3.

"Of course, she is authorized to play tennis again, but why would she get that extra help compared to other players?"

However, if she wins Sunday's final, Sharapova will rank approximately 125th in the world - high enough for a qualifying place at both the French Open and Wimbledon.

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Sharapova said: "What he's done is fantastic and obviously you want to follow in his footsteps and obviously I would love to have the type of comeback he's had".

Sharapova only made the main draw for Stuttgart after being given a wild card as her ranking was wiped out after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

"I understand tournaments want her in the draw", said Mladenovic.

However, not everyone has been happy to see Sharapova back on the court.

Some bookmakers already make Sharapova the favourite for next month's French Open, even though she is not now guaranteed a place due to her lack of a ranking after her ban.

Sharapova took control of the second set early and, although Kontaveit threatened a comeback, ultimately she could not get back on terms.

Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova will meet Romania's Simona Halep in the quarter-finals.

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