April 15, 2021
Sports Tennis

Sharapova defeats Halep in three-set thriller on return from doping ban

New York: Russian star Maria Sharapova defeated second seed Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the first round of the US Open at Flushing Meadows here.

Wildcard Sharapova, who was making her first appearance at a Grand Slam since her return from a 15-month suspension for doping, outlasted the Romanian in a much-anticipated first round match on Arthur Ashe court that lasted over two and a half hours on Monday, reports Efe.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner, overpowered Halep in the first set, before the second seed showed considerable fight to overcome the obvious physical mismatch and take the second set 6-4.

The Russian put any fears that her lengthy suspension would reduce her toughness and edge firmly to rest in the third set, taking it 6-3.

Sharapova hit 60 winners on the night, four times as many as her opponent, to extend her winning record against Halep to 7-0.

“You sometimes wonder why you put in all the work,” Sharapova said on court after her victory, “and this is exactly why.”

“Behind the crystals, this girl has grit,” she added, to loud cheers from the crowd.

Sharapova moves on to the second round, where she will face 59th-ranked Timea Babos of Hungary.

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