Sharapova comeback woe

STUTTGART, Germany – Former world number one Maria Sharapova crashed out of the Stuttgart Grand Prix semi-final in her first event back after a 15-month doping suspension, losing to France’s Kristina Mladenovic 3-6 7-5 6-4 on Saturday.

Wildcard entrant Sharapova, a five-time grand-slam winner, squandered a 6-3 2-0 lead as Mladenovic clawed her way back into the game to win after two hours and 38 minutes.

Sharapova had not lost a set in the previous three matches of her comeback this week.

Her defeat means she will finish outside the top 200 when the rankings are released on Monday, ruling out a qualifier spot for the French Open.

Sharapova, who was banned for using meldonium after testing positive at the 2016 Australian Open, has also received wildcards for forthcoming tournaments in Madrid and Rome.

The Russian was in complete control at the start, with her French opponent showing nerves, and a second double fault allowed Sharapova to race 4-1 clear.

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