MADRID: Eugenie Bouchard used her game to send a message to Maria Sharapova by defeating the Russian 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in a thrilling second-round match at the Madrid Open on Monday.
Bouchard, one of the most outspoken players against Sharapova’s return to tennis following a doping ban, jumped up and down after converting her second match point in just under three hours.
The players casually shook hands at the net and exchanged brief plaudits.
It was their first meeting since Bouchard called Sharapova a cheater and said she should have been banned for life from the sport after testing positive for meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.
There were no major signs of animosity between them. They went about their business, not paying too much attention to each other in between points.
Bouchard defeated Sharapova for the first time by taking advantage of the Russian’s 49 unforced errors and struggles on serve, including nine double faults.
The 60th-ranked Canadian had 21 break opportunities, converting five of them.
The Madrid Open is only the second tournament for Sharapova since serving a 15-month suspension. The five-time Grand Slam champion reached the Stuttgart semifinals last month.
Bouchard had not backed off her comments, and said she was looking forward to playing Sharapova, the 2014 Madrid champion.
Sharapova had said she didn’t need extra motivation to play against anybody.
There were a few long stares and some loud cheers by the players after some points.
Sharapova won the first game with a powerful shot straight at Bouchard’s body at the net, forcing Bouchard to protect herself. The Canadian deflected the ball with her racket and lost the point.
In a tense game near the end of the first set, Sharapova was frustrated after Bouchard won a point with a ball that changed directions from a net cord. Bouchard turned around without directly apologizing.
Earlier, top-seeded Angelique Kerber defeated Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 to advance to the third round and regain the world No. 1 ranking.
Kerber overcame seven double faults and won the final four games.
Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, ranked third in the world, lost to Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-3, 6-3, ending her hopes of reaching No. 1 this week.
That meant Kerber was guaranteed to retake the top ranking from Serena Williams next week. Kerber will face Bouchard next.
In the men’s tournament, Tomas Berdych defeated Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 6-4, while Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 7-6 (7), 6-4.
Nick Kyrgios of Australia got past Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 7-6 (1), 6-4, and Gilles Simon defeated fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils 0-6, 6-0, 7-6 (0). David Ferrer of Spain rallied to beat qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4. -- AP