Maria Sharapova Wins First Title After Doping Ban

Maria SharapovaMaria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova secured her first Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) title since serving a 15 month ban by beating Aryna Sabalenka to win the Tianjin Open on Sunday.

Sharapova was suspended by the WTA after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open but the original two-year ban was later reduced, allowing her to make her comeback in April, Mail Online reported.

The five-time grand slam champion, a tournament wildcard, overcame Belarusian 19-year-old Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) in a straight-sets victory.

Both unseeded in China and both yet to drop a set ahead of their final showdown, world No. 102 Sabalenka was dominant at the start of the first and second sets and looked on course to complete a perfect tournament as she led her Russian opponent 4-1 and 5-1 in the both sets.

But the 30-year-old Russian came back on both occasions to claim her first title in 29 months, winning the second-set tie-breaker 10-8.

Sharapova fell to as low as No. 300 on the WTA rankings and was denied a wild card for the French Open, before injury forced the Russian out of Wimbledon.

She was granted a wild card for the US Open and reached the fourth round before losing to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.

The Russian’s return continues to gain momentum and after climbing back to 86th in the world, she is now celebrating her first title since she won the Italian Open back in May 2015.

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