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Sharapova's winning return grabs Stuttgart Open spotlight

The focus was firmly on Maria Sharapova's return to action at the Stuttgart Open, where only two of eight matches went the distance.

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova's winning return grabbed the headlines at the Stuttgart Open on a day when fifth seed Garbine Muguruza missed out on a spot in the last eight.

Wednesday's action marked Sharapova's comeback to the WTA Tour following a 15-month absence after she was found to have taken the banned steroid meldonium.

Opponent Roberta Vinci was one of many to have criticised the decision to hand the five-time grand slam champion a wildcard, but Sharapova marched through to round two with a deserved 7-5 6-3 triumph in Germany.

She was followed on court by Muguruza, who lost all her momentum in a second-set tie-break against world number 73 Anett Kontaveit.

The Spaniard was beaten 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 in one of only two matches to go the distance.

Kontaveit joined Simona Halep in reaching the quarter-finals, the Romanian fourth seed overcoming Barbora Strycova 6-2 6-3.

Briton Johanna Konta, whose recent Fed Cup outing was overshadowed by the abuse she received from Romania captain Ilie Nastase, shrugged off that unsavoury episode in a 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-1 win over Naomi Osaka.

In other first-round matches, Kristina Mladenovic set up a showdown with reigning champion Angelique Kerber after a 6-4 6-2 victory over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Carla Suarez Navarro beat Tamara Korpatsch 6-2 6-4, Elena Vesnina downed Daria Kasatkina 7-6 (7-2) 6-2, while Coco Vandeweghe saw off Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3).

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