Sharapova wins Tianjin Open title

Sharapova topples Linette to reach Tianjin quarter-finals

Maria Sharapova won the Tianjin Open on Sunday winning her first tournament since her return for a drug ban.

On Friday, organizers of the VTB Kremlin Cup confirmed to TASS that Sharapova would be granted a wildcard in order to enter the competition as soon as she returns from the WTA Tianjin Open in China.

"It is a special title, a special victory", Sharapova said after the win. The 30-year-old, ranked 86 in the world, was granted a wildcard for Tianjin because her ranking was too low.

Sharapova's coach Sven Groeneveld urged her to use the body serve, and momentum immediately shifted as she held the next game and then edged a nine-minute game seven to wrestle it back on serve.

The Russian trailed 4-1 in both sets before getting the better of Sabalenka, who was contesting her first Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tour final, 7-5, 7-6 in two hours and five minutes.

The second set followed a similar pattern and Sabalenka was 5-1 up before Sharapova reeled her in, breaking three times - and saving a set point along the way - before serving for the match at 6-5.

Sharapova had defeated Romania's now world number one Simona Halep in the first round. Sharapova, a former five-time Grand Slam victor, prevailed in China after she was pushed to the limit by 102nd-ranked teenager Aryna Sabalenka. In her first tournament back, in Stuttgart, she made it to the semi-finals but has been unable to repeat that feat again, until now.

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