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Sharapova wins first title since return from ban

Sharapova served a 15-month ban after she tested positive for a banned substance. Credit: PA

Maria Sharapova has clinched her first WTA title since returning from a drugs ban after beating Aryna Sabalenka to win the Tianjin Open.

The five-time grand slam champion, a tournament wildcard, overcame Belarusian teenager Sabalenka 7-5 7-6 (10/8) in a straight-sets victory on Sunday.

Sharapova, who made her comeback in April, is celebrating her first title since she won the Italian Open back in May 2015.

Sharapova trailed world number 102 Sabalenka 4-1 and 5-1 in the first and second sets. But the 30-year-old Russian, who did not drop a set en route to Sunday's final, fought back on each occasion to claim her first title in 29 months.

Sharapova served a 15-month ban after she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

The former world number one was denied a wild card for the French Open, before missing Wimbledon through injury. She was granted a wild card for the US Open and reached the fourth round before losing to Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova.

Sharapova through to first final since drugs ban

Credit: PA

Maria Sharapova remains on course for a first WTA title since returning from a drugs ban after beating Peng Shuai in straight sets in the semi-finals of the Tianjin Open.

The five-time grand slam champion needed just 78 minutes to beat third seed Peng 6-3 6-1 and book a final date with world number 102 Aryna Sabalenka.

Sharapova, a tournament wildcard, made the perfect start by breaking Peng's serve in the first game of the match and closed out the set with another break.

Peng had held her own for much of the opening set but former world number one Sharapova broke early in the second and completed a comfortable win.

Sharapova, who made her comeback in April, has advanced to her first WTA final since May 2015 without dropping a set.

The 30-year-old will meet teenager Sabalenka in Sunday's final after the Belarusian defeated Italy's Sara Errani 6-1 6-3.

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Sharapova confirms competition return after ban

Maria Sharapova will make her professional tennis comeback following her doping ban at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart in April.

The former world number one is serving a 15-month ban after testing positive for cardiac drug meldonium last January and is eligible to compete again on April 26.

Maria Sharapova will return to the sport in April. Credit: PA

The Stuttgart tournament is an obvious comeback event given Porsche is one of her main sponsors, but it had been thought she would not be able to play because it starts two days before her suspension runs out.

Sharapova will not be allowed to attend the tournament until the Wednesday, the day of her first match.

She said on porsche.com: "I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments. I can't wait to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love."

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