Sharapova more disappointed to lose early than to detractor

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Not losing to arch critic Eugenie Bouchard.

The chances seemed slim in Madrid on Monday.

Sharapova showed good form in her 2017 season debut in Stuttgart last week, but fell in the semifinals to Kristina Mladenovic, another player who had made headlines in the past by being vehemently opposed to Sharapova's return to tennis after a doping ban. But Bouchard hadn't been almost as bold as her words when she had faced the Russian in the past.

Bouchard was 0-4 previously against Sharapova. Bouchard will face top-seeded German Angelique Kerber in the Round of 16 on Wednesday. Pliskova, ranked No. 3 in the world, was hoping to rise to No. 1 this week.

Sharapova, a five-times grand slam victor, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. Both players clearly didn't like each other and regardless of Sharapova saying she was "above that", she definitely wanted to stomp Bouchard to make a point - that didn't happen, and the pair's post-match handshake was ice cold.

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Sharapova struck first in a topsy-turvy first set with a searing forehand down the line to lead 4-2. The Canadian revealed she received good luck from quite a few in the tennis fraternity, who were against the Russian players' comeback.

Sharapova's opponent in her comeback match, Vinci also criticised the invitation for a player who has been caught doping. She tested positive for "meldonium", a legal drug in Eastern Europe, but it was added to the list of the WTA's banned substances the prior fall.

Sharapova broke back immediately but then dropped another service game to allow Bouchard to serve out for the match.

In the decider set, Sharapova survived five break points in the fifth game.

But unlike in the opening frame where it all seemed to go wrong from there, the Russian would learn from her mistakes, commanding the court with some stunning defence of her own paired with some astonishing angles to storm through the second set, 6-2.

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At the time, Bouchard said in relation to Sharapova: "She's a cheater and ..." At 2-2, she double faulted twice and was broken. The tournament runs until 14 May.

Bouchard converted her second match point with a searing crosscourt forehand victor to close the books on her biggest win of the season. From 15-40, she hit a backhand into the net, a backhand wide and a backhand long. She let her racket do the talking last night.

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. I wanted to do it for myself, but also for all of these people. "I really felt the support".

This may have been Bouchard's best performance since 2014, her breakthrough year, but Sharapova said she wasn't surprised by it. Sharapova was disappointed by the result, but claimed she was able to block out any extraneous distractions.

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