Tuesday 25 July 2017

Bouchard digs deep to see off Sharapova

Eugenie Bouchard shows her delight after victory over Maria Sharapova. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Eugenie Bouchard shows her delight after victory over Maria Sharapova. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

INdependent.ie Sportsdesk

Eugenie Bouchard produced a brilliant fighting display to win her grudge match against Maria Sharapova at the Madrid Open.

The pair faced each other in the second round, with the Canadian winning 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in a tense match.

The pair shake hands after their second round clash in the Madrid Open. Photo: Reuters/Sergio Perez
The pair shake hands after their second round clash in the Madrid Open. Photo: Reuters/Sergio Perez

Bouchard had called Sharapova "a cheater" prior to the Russian's return to competitive action in April after a 15-month doping ban. It was world No 60 Bouchard's first win over Sharapova, who she believes should be banned from tennis for life.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner, was initially banned for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. It was reduced to 15 months and, in October, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Sharapova was not an "intentional doper".

Bouchard was still hugely critical of Sharapova, though, and the fired-up Russian looked to gain some kind of payback early on in Madrid. She needed to save two break points in the fifth game, but broke Bouchard in the sixth with a brutal forehand winner to lead 4-2.

Bouchard immediately broke back and capitalised on sloppy play from Sharapova, who made six double faults in the set, to break again. Yet Bouchard dropped her serve to make it 5-5.

Sharapova then lost a 12-minute service game as Bouchard broke and the Canadian eventually took the opening set 7-5.

Sharapova, who struggled with her serve, recovered in the second, again claiming a 4-2 lead. This time she did not let Bouchard back in.

Neither player was prepared to give ground in the decider as Sharapova survived five break points in the fifth game.

Bouchard's pressure paid off when she broke to love to go 4-3 up, only for Sharapova to instantly hit back. But another break from Bouchard allowed her to serve for the match to set up a third-round tie with Angelique Kerber.

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