Published: Tue, May 09, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Bouchard claims victory over Sharapova in thriller

Bouchard claims victory over Sharapova in thriller

Eugenie Bouchard (left) shakes hands with Maria Sharapova after their match.

A fired-up Eugenie Bouchard let her tennis do the talking by beating Maria Sharapova in a thrilling second-round battle at the Madrid Open on Monday.

Bouchard had been vocally critical of Sharapova leading up to the match, calling the Russian star a "cheater".

Playing in her second tournament since a 15-month doping suspension, Sharapova denied there would be extra motivation to defeat Bouchard after the Canadian previously called her "a cheater" and said she should be banned for life from the sport.

But the Russian played too many risky shots in the third set and, despite breaking Bouchard's serve in the eighth game immediately after surrendering her own, she dropped another service game to allow Bouchard to serve out for the match.

In an earlier match, top-seeded German Angelique Kerber overcame a 5-3 deficit in the third set to get past Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.

The handshake at the net was lukewarm at best, but the smile on Bouchard's face as she saluted the applauding crowd showed that this meant much more than just a round-of-32 win. "The match play that I have, getting myself in these situations, getting out of them, will ultimately help me for those big events whether I'm in there or not".

In October, the Swiss Court of Arbitration of Sport reduced Sharapova's initial two-year ban to 15 months on appeal, saying she bore no "significant fault" and didn't intend to cheat.

Bouchard's victory was her first over Sharapova, the 2014 Madrid Open champion, and her first in the tournament after losing in the first round in the previous three years.

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Sharapova hit back in the next set and raced into a 4-2 lead.

After Sharapova received a pep talk from her coach, Sven Groeneveld, who told her to "take a deep breath and get back to your basics", she broke straight back with aggressive tennis for 5-5.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam victor, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

"Today was just not that day".

"What you work for for so many hours every single day is to be on the winning end of matches".

The Canadian defeated the Russian, who had been given a wildcard entry as she continues her comeback following a doping ban 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in a match lasting nearly three hours on the main court in the Caja Magica in Madrid. "And like this one, it was extremely tough, not many rallies, she forced me to come out with some of my good tennis and I really had to dig deep". "I know what the drill is".

Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, ranked third in the world, lost to Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-3, 6-3, ending her hopes of reaching No. 1 this week.

On the men's side, Tomas Berdych defeated Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 6-4, while Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 7-6 (7), 6-4.

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