Maria Sharapova recovered from a shaky opening to defeat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the first round of the Madrid Open on Sunday, getting off to a good start in her second tournament since returning from a doping ban.
Sharapova took control of the match after struggling early against the 20th-ranked Lucic-Baroni, cruising to victory in the final set after more than two hours on the center court in Madrid.
Sharapova had 16 winners and only 10 unforced errors in her opening-round victory, her fourth since a controversial return to tennis.
The Russian was broken three times in the first set, but only once the rest of the match at the clay-court tournament. She had a total of 19 break opportunities, converting seven of them.
Sharapova said it was “extremely important” to get the opening-round victory.
“The first match of a tournament is always one of the most difficult and it's been a while since I played on this court,” she said. “I was just so happy to be back out here, to have the opportunity to play against a really tough opponent and come out and be a winner in three sets.”
It was Sharapova's fifth match since a 15-month ban for testing positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open. She played her first tournament after the ban in Stuttgart last month, being eliminated in the semifinals by 17th-ranked Kristina Mladenovic of France.
The five-time Grand Slam champion and former top-ranked player has been relying on wild cards because she lost her ranking following the doping ban.
Zverev takes BMW Open title
Alexander Zverev won his first title on home soil as the German defeated Argentine qualifier Guido Pella 6-4, 6-3 to win the BMW Open.
The 20-year-old Zverev fired eight aces and converted three of eight break points to win his third career title.
The 158th-ranked Pella was bidding to become the first qualifier to win the Munich title since Martin Klizan in 2014. It was Pella's second ATP tour final after losing to Pablo Cuevas in Rio de Janeiro last year.
“Sad that I didn't win today but I played against a great player, a great champion,” Pella said.
The third-seeded Zverev, who won in St. Petersburg last year and took his second title in Montpellier in February, lost his only other final in Germany to compatriot Florian Mayer in Halle last year. “I really wanted to win a tournament in Germany, which I've done now and I'm very happy about it. Obviously my first title on clay as well. It's a great feeling right now,” Zverev said.
Busta wins Estoril Open
Top-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain defeated Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-2, 7-6 (5) Sunday to win the Estoril Open.
Carreno Busta, who lost last year's final to fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, dominated the decisive points in the tiebreaker to win his third career title.
It was the second final this year for the 21st-ranked Carreno Busta, who lost the Rio de Janeiro title to Dominic Thiem. His other two titles were won last year in Moscow and Winston-Salem.
Barthel claims Prague Open title
Qualifier Mona Barthel of Germany rallied to win the Prague Open, beating unseeded Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Barthel broke Pliskova for a 4-2 lead in the final set before converting her second match point for her fourth WTA title and the first since 2014.
“I can't believe it,” Barthel said. “Somehow, I made it. I'm completely exhausted.”
The 82nd-ranked Barthel saved three match points in the second round of qualifying on her way to victory in the final.