Tennis

Sharapova sees positives despite exit

Maria Sharapova's Grand Slam return after a 15-month doping ban ended yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a fourth-round defeat at the US Open, but the former world No. 1 considered it a major step in her comeback.

Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova rallied to eliminate the five-time Grand Slam champion 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, booking a quarter-final against American Sloane Stephens, who ousted Germany's Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Sharapova, the 2006 US Open winner, was able to find the positives after making 51 unforced errors to only 14 by Sevastova, whose 21 winners were half the 30-year-old Russian's total.

"Reflecting back on the week, I can be happy," Sharapova said.

"It has been a really great ride.

"Ultimately, I can take a lot from this week."

Playing in her first Grand Slam since she tested positive for the banned blood booster meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, she ousted second-ranked Simona Halep in the first round and served notice to any contender that her game remains formidable.

"She played unbelievable throughout the first and second set and I just kept fighting, running for every ball," Sevastova said.

"I was confident.

"I was feeling it. But still, you have to beat her.

"She was playing one of the best matches here."

Sharapova returned from her suspension in April, was snubbed for a French Open wildcard and missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury but received a US Open wildcard despite only one hardcourt tune-up match due to a left forearm injury.

"It's great to get that Major out of the way," she said.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity. I did my best and I can be proud of that."

Sharapova is expected to jump from 146th to around 100th in the world rankings. - AFP

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