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Sharapova marks comeback from doping ban with win over Vinci

Tennis - WTA Stuttgart Tennis Grand Prix - Maria Sharapova of Russia v Roberta Vinci of Italy - Stuttgart, Germany - 26/4/17. Maria Sharapova of Russia in action. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
Tennis - WTA Stuttgart Tennis Grand Prix - Maria Sharapova of Russia v Roberta Vinci of Italy - Stuttgart, Germany - 26/4/17. Maria Sharapova of Russia in action. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) - 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.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann,; Editing by Neville Dalton)

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