When Eugenie Bouchard and Maria Sharapova were drawn against each other at the Madrid Open, it didn’t take long for people to realise why that was such a dramatic pairing.
Sharapova returned from a 15-month suspension recently following a positive test for meldonium – she was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years, before it was reduced to 15 months and, in October, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Sharapova was not an “intentional doper”.
Nevertheless, Bouchard had some strong words for the five-time Grand Slam winner.
Bouchard said Sharapova was “a cheater” and that “a cheater in any sport should not be allowed to play again”.
Bouchard also added: “She’s not someone I can say I look up to any more”.
Asked by the media about the comments, Sharapova said: “I don’t have anything to say – I am way above that.”
Naturally then, when the pair were drawn together in a second-round meeting in Madrid, the game carried extra interest. And as far as quality was concerned, it did not disappoint.
Bouchard came through 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 to advance to the third round against Angelique Kerber, in what was a superb exhibition of tennis, and one of the biggest wins of the Canadian’s season.
Eugenie Bouchard defeats Maria Sharapova 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
Sharapova must reach semis in Rome next week to make Wimbledon main draw by right.— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) May 8, 2017
It was also the 23-year-old’s first victory over Sharapova – Sharapova meanwhile is far from certain of a place at Wimbledon this year.