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Fired-up Sharapova fights back to reach Madrid second round

Having fallen a set down, Maria Sharapova recovered to beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the Madrid Open first round.

sharapova - CROPPED
Russia's Maria Sharapova.

Maria Sharapova came from behind to claim an ultimately comfortable 4-6 6-4 6-0 victory over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round of the Madrid Open on Sunday.

Sharapova made her comeback in April following a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test, reaching the semi-finals at the Stuttgart Open – a performance that saw her re-enter the WTA rankings at number 262.

An exhibition defeat to Monica Puig in the Spanish capital followed and her Madrid Open campaign threatened to be a short one as the controversial wildcard entry fell a set down to Lucic-Baroni.

However, the fired-up Russian fought back against the world number 20 to set up a second-round clash with Eugenie Bouchard.

Lucic-Baroni needed three chances to make an advantage stick in a tight opening set.

After breaking Sharapova in the opening game, Lucic-Baroni was immediately pegged back, and another exchange of breaks soon followed.

Lucic-Baroni's break to go 4-3 in front proved decisive in the context of the first set, but it was Sharapova who struck first in the second.

After going 3-1 up on her opponent's serve, the former world number one battled to an important hold, but squandered four set points as Lucic-Baroni got back on terms.

The Croatian was beginning to struggle with her first serve and unforced errors, however, and a long backhand gifted Sharapova the set.

Lucic-Baroni's third-set fortunes were summed up by a forehand she managed to inexplicably send wide to afford Sharapova the comfort of a 5-0 lead.

Sharapova had the bit between her teeth and finished off the 17th seed with another break of serve to seal her progression.

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