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Sharapova returns to competition hours after doping ban expires

Sharapova returns to competition hours after doping ban expires
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By Atack Patrick
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Controversial Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova slated to return to competition just hours after her 15-month doping ban expires

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Maria Sharapova is set to return from a 15-month suspension at the Stuttgart Grand Prix on Wednesday.

The date is key, as Sharapova’s ban only expires at Midnight on Tuesday. Sharapova failed a drug test for meldnium during the 2016 Australian Open.

The Russian has been given a Wildcard slot, and will face world number 35, Italian Roberta Vinci.

Sharapova has played Roberta Vinci twice before – the Italian won four games in total over the 2 matches.

— Mike Dickson (@Mike_Dickson_DM) April 22, 2017

It’s seen as an kind draw for Sharapova’s return… Vinci last won a game in March when she progressed to the second round at Indian Wells.

If Sharapova wins, a tense second round is on the cards.

Agnieska Radwanska is among those to criticise Sharapova’s inclusion, and if she can overcome Ekaterina Makarova, the two will meet in the second round.

With her return days away, Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud decided to break his silence after these comments from Radwanska. Here he goes: pic.twitter.com/WXUVxooeK5

— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) April 21, 2017

After Stuttgart, it will be decided if the Russian will receive an invite to Rolland Garos.

Sharapova is back. Happy pic.twitter.com/M2duy2q4YN

— Stephane Celerier (@stephanecel) April 22, 2017

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