Maria Sharapova moved into the top 60 of the WTA rankings after winning her first title in more than two years. Sharapova defeated Aryna Sablaenka in straight sets (7-5, 7-6) to win the Tianjin open this week. Sharapova has struggled, in her much anticipated and controversial return to professional tennis. Many have criticised the WTA for awarding wild cards to a player returning from a drug abuse ban. This has proved to be a huge mental obstacle, in the path of Maria Sharapova.
Her return has been patchy and marred with injuries. A shoulder injury ruled her out of the grass court seasons. She was also forced to withdraw from Rome and Stanford, citing a thigh and shoulder injury. Winning Tianjin is a sliver of light in a dark tunnel as she heads into the latter part of 2017.
The Russian returns to Moscow, Russia next week after almost a decade of absence. The Kremlin Cup tournament organisers announced on Friday that the five-time Grand Slam champion has accepted a wildcard invitation.
Maria Sharapova spoke on her victory at Tianjin- ‘It is a special title, a special victory. It has been a couple of years since I have held the winner’s trophy. It is a great feeling, a team effort.’ She also added- ‘You have to appreciate those moments, never take them for granted. ‘I am really looking forward to playing in my home country as the last event of the year [at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow]. ‘Obviously coming there with the title already means a lot, but I do really want to finish strong, even though it is a very fast turnaround, and I don’t remember the last time that I played three events in a row. But I will give it everything I have got and I know I have so many amazing fans there.’
Sharapova has a good chance of finishing her year within the top 50, provided she keeps up her current level in the next couple of tournaments.