Sharapova to return after ban at Stuttgart

Sharapova to return after ban at Stuttgart

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

MOSCOW – Maria Sharapova will return from her 15-month doping ban at a tournament in Germany in April.

Car manufacturer Porsche, which sponsors both Sharapova and the event in Stuttgart, says Sharapova has been given a wild-card entry into the tournament.

It will be her first official competition since she tested positive for meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.

Sharapova, who won the Stuttgart tournament from 2012-14, says: “I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favorite tournaments.”

The Russian will have to rely on wild-card invites to tournaments, including Grand Slams, for a while because her ban means she has fallen out of the world rankings, which only count tournament performances over the preceding 12 months.

Sharapova was originally banned for two years but that was reduced on appeal in October. She said she had used meldonium for years for medical reasons and was not aware it had been banned for 2016.

During her ban, she has played in some exhibition events. Known for setting up her own confectionary brand and for an interest in the commercial side of tennis, Sharapova also enrolled in a two-week program at Harvard Business School last year.

Kyrgios out of warm-up

In Sydney, Nick Kyrgios Tuesday pulled out of a World Tennis Challenge exhibition in Adelaide with a knee injury in a setback to his Australian Open preparations.

“Unfortunately I am unable to play @WTCAdelaide this year. I have to rest & do all I can to be ready for #AO17 but I will be back next year,” the Australian world No. 14 said on Twitter.

The 21-year-old is receiving treatment on a left knee he reportedly damaged playing basketball, and will rest in the lead-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year starting Monday in Melbourne.

He struggled with the issue during a 6-2, 6-2 defeat in less than an hour to American Jack Sock at last week’s Hopman Cup.

Kyrgios appeared less hampered Monday night when he beat Rafael Nadal at an exhibition in Sydney under the Fast4 format.

Kyrgios’ career has been marked by tantrums and even tanking, with Australia’s highest ranked player only recently returning from a ban for a “lack of best efforts” during a controversial match in Shanghai last year.