Maria Sharapova's return ends in semifinal defeat to Kristina Mladenovic
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — Maria Sharapova's first tournament since her controversial return to tennis ended Saturday after losing to Kristina Mladenovic of France in the Porsche Grand Prix semifinals.
Mladenovic beat former top-ranked Sharapova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
In her fourth match following a 15-month doping ban, the Russian was left to rue missing 13 of her 16 break-point opportunities as Mladenovic rallied to win in 2 hours, 38 minutes.
"I would have loved to use more of the opportunities when I was up a set and a break and I think I lost like 12 out of the next 14 points. So I definitely had a bit of a let-down," Sharapova said.
The 19th-ranked Mladenovic, who ousted two-time defending champion Angelique Kerber on Thursday, next plays last year's runner-up Laura Siegemund. The German wild card advanced to her second final in her hometown with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of fourth-seeded Simona Halep.
Sharapova, who tested positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open, had been given a wild card to enter the Stuttgart event after losing her ranking because of the ban.
The five-time Grand Slam champion is now turning attention to tournaments in Rome and Madrid before potentially appearing at the French Open.
"I'm moving in Europe in the next couple of months and this is what I want to go through. I want to go through the matches. I want to see how my body responds, how I feel. I want to feel that match play, I want to feel the tiredness of match play," Sharapova said.
"That's what I asked for. That's what I wanted and I'm doing it."