Maria Sharapova hits back to stake her US Open title claim

Maria Sharapova makes her comeback in a crystal-studded little black dress

Former World No 1 Maria Sharapova made a triumphant return to Grand Slam competition after a 15-month doping ban, outlasting second-ranked Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at the US Open on Monday.

Despite being far from her best, Sharapova was able to end the match with a positive differential between her 39 winners and 36 unforced errors compared to Babos who ended with 13 and 24, respectively.

Maria Sharapova found herself with more to lose in her US Open second round and flirted with an early exit before surviving into the last 32. The 30-year-old Russian became the first player into the third round where she will face Russian-born USA teen wildcard Sofia Kenin.

"I felt like it was a scrappy match but sometimes those days are the best, because you get through and give yourself another chance", said the 30-year-old, who is only competing by virtue of a wildcard after her world ranking slumped to 146th.

Williams, the No. 9 seed, plays Oceane Dodin of France at night. The 37-year-old hit 33 winners in the first match of day three's night session at Flushing Meadows. "I've done it before.' I want to have that feeling again", Sharapova said.

But the Wimbledon champion wasted little time once she did get on court, defeating her Chinese opponent 6-4 6-0. During television coverage of her matches there is little mention of the background to her 15-month break from competition.

Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open champion, rescued three match points in defeating 67th-ranked Czech Marketa Vondrousova 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) to reach the second round to stay in that hunt.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova closed her remarks to a supportive crowd by saying that behind her fancy dress and sparkly crystals, "This girl has a lot of grit and she's not going anywhere".

And the marquee headline act that is Sharapova most certainly belongs here, just as she belongs at every Grand Slam tournament.

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Tennis' former world No. 1 and five-time Grand Slam victor pulled off a 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-1 win over Timea Babos of Hungary.

"I just thought that was another day, another opportunity, another match", Sharapova said.

Maria Sharapova and Sofia Kenin meet in the third round of the 2017 US Open.

It was a disgusting draw for Wozniacki against the in-form Russian, who looked like she might have blown her chance when she failed to serve out the match in the second set.

Sharapova twice broke the Babos serve when the Hungarian was serving for the opening set but then lost the tiebreak 7-4. Just a scoop in the first round of the US Open!

After her win over Babos, she was asked how many times she had been drug-tested this year.

Romania's Monica Niculescu dispatched Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-2, with the Frenchwoman saying afterwards: "Physically, I'm in good shape, but it was not enough".

"I don't mind looking at the matchups, who is going to be playing the beginning of the event", she said.

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