Tianjin Open: Maria Sharapova Wins First WTA Since Drug Ban
Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title since returning from a drugs ban as she fought back in both sets to beat Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 7-6 (10-8) at the Tianjin Open.
The Russian made a comeback to the tour in April following a 15-month ban for taking the banned substance meldonium, having tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open.
And after an injury-hit year, she has now lifted her first crown since her return in what was a battling win.
World No. 102 Sabalenka of Belarus stood in her path and the 19-year-old led 4-1 and 5-1 in the first and second sets respectively.
But the five-time Grand Slam champion clawed her way back into it twice to secure the title in dramatic fashion.
The win will give the 30-year-old world No. 86 hope that she is getting back to her best, in what’s been a difficult return.
After being refused a wildcard at the French Open, Sharapova was injured for the grass-court season, missing Wimbledon in the process.
She was granted a main draw wildcard for the US Open, where she reached the fourth round and memorably beat current world No. 1 Simona Halep in her opening match.
But the 2004 Wimbledon winner has now lifted her first trophy since May 2015, where she won the Italian Open.