Mladenovic ends Sharapova's bid for title in tour return

Indo Asian News Service

Stuttgart (Germany), April 30 (IANS) Snuffing Russian Maria Sharapova's bid to win her first tournament after serving out a 15-month doping ban, France's Kristina Mladenovic rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory to reach the final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix here.

She will next face Germany's Laura Siegemund in Sunday's final, reports Efe.

Sharapova looked headed for victory when she dominated the opening set with the loss of just four points on serve here on Saturday.

In the second and third sets, however, Mladenovic made the 30-year-old Russian pay for missing her first serve, winning the vast majority of her opponent's second-serve points to break her four times.

Despite the narrow defeat, the five-time Grand Slam champion showed little sign of rust throughout the tournament and even kept down her number of double faults relative to some tournaments in the past.

The organisers' decision to grant Sharapova a wildcard sparked controversy, with many players saying the Russian should have to earn her way back into the main draw of WTA events.

In Saturday's second semifinal, Siegemund used a strong drop shot and forehand to keep fourth-seeded Romanian Simona Halep off balance in a 6-4, 7-5 upset win.

--IANS

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