The Maria Sharapova bandwagon continues as she collected her second win at the Stuttgart Open on her rehabilitation journey, despite the verbal hurdles she has to suffer.
I don't have anything to say , I am way above that. Maria Sharapova
Her latest win was a 7-5 6-1 victory over compatriot Ekaterina Makarova with a display of powerful tennis which shows she is getting back to the levels she attained before she was banned for taking a performance enhancing drug fifteen months ago.
Asked to comment on Eugenie Bouchard’s cheat comments and her call for her to be banned for life, Sharapova disdainfully shrugged it off by declaring “I don’t have anything to say, I am way above that.”
The match itself was a closely fought contest over the first set but Makarova’s resistance faded in the second providing Sharapova with her seventh win over her Russian compatriot.
With both Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska now out of contention the latter earlier in the week and the former earlier in the day Sharapova could well now go all the way to claim her fourth Stuttgart title. Her next opponent at the quarter-final stage is the unseeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit, the world No.72 who beat the French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in the second round.
Her two wins so far have earned her sufficient points to lift her into the top 400 thereby increasing her chances of gaining a direct entry into Wimbledon if not Roland Garros. With two more events in Madrid and Rome where she has been wildcarded, her chances look good.
Speaking in an on-court interview the 30-year-old said: "Being the second match and playing yesterday and getting all the emotions out, I feel I settled down a little bit today and I was able to focus on my game. I executed a great plan.
"Practice is so different. You can prepare the best you can and when go out you just have to trust it. It was definitely great to come out and play matches and being in the quarter-finals here again is quite special."
Elsewhere on Thursday, world number two and defending champion Kerber was beaten 6-2 7-5 by Kristina Mladenovic of France.
The unexpected result means the German cannot now overtake Serena Williams at the top of the WTA rankings for the next two weeks.
Second-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova, though, did progress after a 7-6 (7/2) 6-4 win over American Coco Vandeweghe, but there was defeat for British number one Johanna Konta as the sixth seed lost 6-3 7-5 against Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.
German Laura Siegemund knocked out Russia’s number eight seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 6-3 to set up a quarter-final against Pliskova, the world number three, while Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro beat Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-2 6-4.
Meanwhile in Barcelona, Andy Murray played his first match since Monte Carlo having received a bye and walkover earlier in the week coming through a tough match with Feliciano Lopez before securing his place in the last eight, 6-4 6-4.
The event, which has been blighted by rain, also swathe end of Dan Evan’s run as he went down to the fourth seed Dominic Thiem in the third round 7-6(5) 6-2