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Maria Sharapova thrilled “everything fell into place” in first win since doping ban

Maria Sharapova silenced several doubters by winning the Tianjin Open WTA event, her first victory since returning from a 15-month doping ban that split the tennis world.

tennis Updated: Oct 15, 2017 23:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Tianjin, China
Maria Sharapova,Tianjin Open,tennis
Maria Sharapova holds the Tianjin Open trophy after defeating Aryna Sabalenka in the final.(AFP)

Maria Sharapova was back with a bang on Sunday after the most trying period in her career as she won the Tianjin Open tennis title on Sunday by defeating teenager Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 7-5, 7-6.

The Russian former world No 1, who returned to the court only in April after a 15-month ban following a positive test for the banned substance Meldonium, faced plenty of criticism.

READ | Maria Sharapova wins first title since doping ban at Tianjin Open

However, the 30-year-old glamour girl of tennis was elated after the victory. She posed besides a giant tennis ball and then fans held up a poster blaring “Unstoppable” – the title of her book – as a beaming Maria Sharapova posed with the trophy.

“It is a special title, a special victory,” Sharapova told the media after the triumph. It was the 36th WTA title for Maria Sharapova.

READ | Maria Sharapova lashes out at Caroline Wozniacki’s jibe over US Open schedule

“It has been a couple of years since I have held the winner’s trophy. It is a great feeling, a team effort,” said Sharapova, whose previous victory had come at Rome in 2015.

The number 36 was special for the Russian, who tweeted her delight after making her comeback count. “Everything fell into place”

Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, said: “When you start all the way from the beginning of the tournament, and it was so cold and not as many spectators, and then you end up playing the final in a full stadium with so much enthusiasm and energy and you are the one that wins the last point, just everything falls into place.”

Sharapova, who won the title without dropping a set, added: “You have to appreciate those moments, never take them for granted.”

The Russian star travels home to play in the Kremlin Cup next.

“I am really looking forward to playing in my home country as the last event of the year,” Sharapova said. “Going there with the title already means a lot, but I do really want to finish strong, even though it is a very fast turnaround, and I don’t remember the last time I played three events in a row.

“I will give it everything I have got and I know I have so many amazing fans there.”

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 23:44 IST