STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Maria Sharapova played her first WTA match in the United States since 2015 and beat Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 on Monday night in the opening round of the Bank of the West Classic.
Sharapova, a wild-card entrant and five-time Grand Slam champion, won the opening four games of the match, lost the first three of the second set and cruised in the third.
”I feel like I just want to hug everyone and say thank you,” Sharapova said in an on-court interview. ”It’s my first match in the States in a really long time, and it’s the closest thing to home for me.”
Sharapova served a 15-month ban after testing positive for a newly banned drug at the 2016 Australian Open. She returned in April and played in three tournaments, but missed Wimbledon because of an injury.
Top-seeded and reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza will play 17-year-old American Kayla Day, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Japanese veteran Misaki Doi.
Ana Konjuh, the No. 5 seed from Croatia, won 6-3, 1-0 after New Zealand qualifier Marina Erakovic retired from the match with an injury. Seventh-seeded Lesia Tsurenko beat Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena 6-3, 6-3.