Sharapova makes winning return

Sharapova makes winning return

Russian packs off Italian Vinci in straight sets to advance

Sharapova makes winning return

Former world number one Maria Sharapova made a winning comeback to the tour on Wednesday following her 15-month doping ban, beating Italian Roberta Vinci in straight sets in the first round of the Stuttgart Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old Russian, three-time winner on Stuttgart's clay courts, received a controversial wild card for the German tournament, having had no ranking points after more than a year out following her suspension for banned substances.

She had a nervous start in front of a supportive crowd but quickly found her strokes and her trademark shrieks to power past the world number 36 7-5, 6-3 and set up a second-round clash against fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

Sharapova's initial two-year suspension was reduced to 15 months after she tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open for meldonium, a medication the Russian had been taking within the rules but which was then reclassified as a banned drug.

Nadal scores

Rafael Nadal saw off Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-1 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the last 16 of the Barcelona Open, while Andy Murray advanced after opponent Bernard Tomic withdrew.

Playing on the newly renamed Rafa Nadal court at the Real Club de Tenis, the Spaniard made light work of his Brazilian opponent to set up a tie against South African Kevin Anderson on Thursday. Nadal broke Dutra Silva's first serve, taking advantage of a double fault and flexing his muscles in the first set.

He lost his serve at the start of the second but quickly came back for the win, showing the form that led him to victory at the Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday.

Nadal said: "I want to thank everyone who makes this tournament possible, a historic tournament and one of the best of the year. It makes me enormously proud that this court bears my name. It's a huge honour and hugely satisfying.” 

Earlier, Australian player Tomic pulled out because of a lower back injury before his clash with Murray, setting the Briton up for a clash in the next round with Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who beat compatriot Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-2.

World number one Murray entered the tournament on a wildcard after his third-round defeat by Spain's Albert Ramos-Violas at the Monte Carlo Masters last week.He is trying to regain his form after his recent elbow injury problem, ahead of next month's French Open.

Rain had delayed all the day's matches, but when the skies cleared David Goffin (Belgium) beat Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) 7-5, 6-0 and Chung Hyeon (South Korea) saw off Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 6-3, 6-4.