MADRID – Maria Sharapova set up a mouth-watering second-round clash with Eugenie Bouchard at the Madrid Open after battling back from a set down to beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6 6-4 6-0 on Sunday.
Bouchard called the Russian “a cheater” last week and suggested she should have been banned for life – rather than 15 months – after testing positive for meldonium at the 2015 Australian Open.
And the Canadian said she would “have a bit more motivation” against her former idol Sharapova after registering a first win on the WTA Tour since January against Alize Cornet on Sunday to set up the grudge match.
After reaching the semi-finals on her return from her doping ban last week in
There were four breaks of serve in the opening six games, but Lucic-Baroni was good value for her lead when she served out to take the first set.
Former number one Sharapova bounced back at the start of a gruelling second set that lasted over an hour by moving 4-1 in front.
However, Lucic-Baroni held off four set points and then broke back for 5-4. The Croatian’s good work was undone, though, by a sloppy service game as Sharapova broke once more to level at one-set all.
And there was no stopping the five-time Grand Slam champion in the decider as she dismissed a dispirited Lucic-Baroni for the loss of just 11 points.
World No 2 Angelique Kerber eased into round two with a convincing 6-4 6-2 win over
Kerber’s form has been inconsistent this season, but she was rarely troubled in wrapping up victory in just over an hour on court.