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Bouchard shows fighting spirit to get better of big rival Sharapova


By Anne Robertson

Eugenie Bouchard produced a brilliant fighting display to win her grudge match against Maria Sharapova at the Madrid Open.

The pair faced each other in the second round in Spain with Bouchard winning 7-5 2-6 6-4 in a competitive and tense match.

Canadian Bouchard had called Sharapova "a cheater" prior to the Russian's return to competitive action in April after a 15-month doping ban.

It was World No.60 Bouchard's first ever win over Sharapova, whom she believes should be banned from tennis for life.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

It was reduced to 15 months and, in October, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Sharapova was not an "intentional doper".

Bouchard was still hugely critical of Sharapova, though, and the fired-up Russian looked to gain some kind of payback.

She needed to save two break points in the fifth game, but broke Bouchard in the sixth to lead 4-2.

Bouchard immediately broke back, yet missed the chance to win the first set when she dropped her serve to make it 5-5.

Sharapova then lost a 12-minute service game as Bouchard broke and the Canadian eventually took the opening set 7-5.

Sharapova recovered in the second, again claiming a 4-2 lead. This time she did not let Bouchard back in as she wrapped it up 6-2.

Neither player was prepared to give ground in the decider as Sharapova survived five break points in the fifth game.

Bouchard's pressure paid off when she broke to love to go 4-3 up, only for Sharapova to instantly hit back.

But another break from Bouchard allowed her to serve for the match to set up a third-round tie with Angelique Kerber.

Belfast Telegraph

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