Gritty Maria Sharapova Battles Back To Beat Timea Babos

Sharapova v Halep, Zverev, Cilic And Venus Monday On Day 1 At US Open

Maria Sharapova found herself with more to lose in her US Open second round and flirted with an early exit before surviving into the last 32.

Against Rodina, who came in 0-3 in Grand Slam matches and 4-13 overall this year, Bouchard made 46 unforced errors, 20 more than her victor total. The kinder, softer Sharapova who arrived at the Open on Monday has since left the building.

Sharapova wore a day version of her crystal-encrusted dress and, although there was less sparkle in her tennis, there was plenty of the same grit which had helped her through an epic encounter with Simona Halep in the first round. She choreographed points. Her serve was a force.

The 30-year-old will next face fellow wildcard Sofia Kenin in the third round and will fancy her chances of going deep, especially with the second-highest seed in her quarter of the draw, Johanna Konta, having been knocked out. I was blown away by her competitiveness, her physicality, her ability. "I wish we were linked more than ranked, that's the way that I see it". Paired with black Nike shoes, Sharapova looked ready to slay-and that's just what she did.

But the questions over the ban, imposed when she tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open past year, still keep coming.

Even six months before her scheduled return it was evident that the tennis community in the United States would welcome her back. "She did her time", Kuznetsova said. She declined to answer a reporter's question about how frequently she has been drug tested this year.

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard has been critical of Sharapova's being welcomed back via wild card to events she otherwise would not be capable of qualifying for due to her ranking of No. 146 in the world. She raced ahead 3-0 in the third, then 5-2.

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Elsewhere, however, a number of players were critical of the way that tournaments lined up to offer Sharapova wild cards when her ban expired in April.

Sharapova moves through to a second-round meeting with Hungary's Timea Babos on Wednesday.

The decision drew criticism from some quarters but Sharapova received a warm reception from the crowd in both matches.

However, for many leading figures within the tennis world, Sharapova's return to the sport's top table following her doping ban still feels somewhat premature. She holds a career Grand Slam on her resume and more than $36 million in her bank account.

"I felt like I was the fresher player, and going into a third set, that's a good feeling to have", she said.

"I've had an unbelievable reaction from fans since I've been back and that's been very special", Sharapova said afterwards. "I think it would be quite obnoxious of me to come in here expecting I have a right to be in second week".

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