Sharapova triumphs in Tianjin opener

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NC Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: Maria Sharapova made an impressive start to the Tianjin Open yesterday, beating Romania´s Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets. Seeded ninth, Begu loomed as a tricky first-round opponent for Sharapova, but the former world number one from Russia swept to a 6-4, 6-2 victory. Currently ranked 86th after returning from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova — granted a wildcard in Tianjin — plays unseeded Magda Linette of Poland next. The 30-year-old Sharapova, who returned to tennis in April after serving a suspension for taking the banned substance meldonium, has yet to win a tournament since then. The five-time Grand Slam winner exited the China Open last week in the third round at the hands of Romania´s Simona Halep, the newly crowned world number one. But Sharapova had no such trouble against Begu, seeing off the 57th-ranked Romanian in 82 minutes. The opening matches of the Tianjin Open have been badly disrupted because of rain.

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