Sharapova Wins Slam Return, Ousts Halep at US Open

 29 Aug 2017 - 13:45

Sharapova Wins Slam Return, Ousts Halep at US Open
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Simona Halep of Romania during their Women's Singles match at the 2017 US Open Tennis Tournament August 28, 2017 in New York. AFP / DON EMMERT

QNA

Washington: Former world number one Maria Sharapova made a triumphant return to Grand Slam competition Monday after a 15-month doping ban, outlasting second-ranked Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at the US Open.

The 30-year-old Russian, who had only one hardcourt tuneup match due to a nagging forearm injury, swatted 60 winners with 64 unforced errors, setting the tempo and baffling Halep at times in a tension-packed thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Sharapova, who tested positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open, improved to 7-0 in her all-time rivalry with Halep, extending her mastery over the 25-year-old Romanian.

Sharapova, whose major titles include the 2006 US Open, advanced to a second-round matchup against Hungarian Timea Babos, whom she has never played.

Sharapova won only 5 of 22 break points in the match while Halep won 4 of 10 and produced only 15 winners against 14 unforced errors.

It was Sharapova's first Grand Slam match since a quarter-final loss to Serena Williams in last year's Australian Open.

Sharapova, ranked 146th, returned in April but the French Open snubbed Sharapova for a wildcard entry and she missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury.

Spanish third seed Muguruza defeated American Varvara Lepchenko 6-0, 6-3.

Muguruza can reach the US Open third round for the first time Wednesday by defeating China's Duan Ying-Ying.

Serbia's 78th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic upset Australian-born Konta 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, removing the only other top-10 player from Sharapova's draw quarter.

German fourth seed Alexander Zverev, the top-ranked player in his half of the draw, saved two set points in the first tie-break and downed stubborn Barbados qualifier and Slam debutant Darian King 7-6 (11/9), 7-5, 6-4.

Croatian fifth seed Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion and last month's Wimbledon runner-up, ousted 105th-ranked American Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.