Sharapova advances to Stuttgart semi-finals

Maria Sharapova's dream return to tennis continued on Friday, as she defeated Anett Kontaveit in straight sets in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix quarter-finals.

To be fair, the Russian has been gifted a very gentle draw, as she's yet to face a top 30 player, but her speedy return to form has still been very impressive.

Having spent 15 months on the sidelines as the result of a doping ban, no one was quite sure how the 30-year-old would perform on her return, but she's answered all questions asked of her so far.

Sharapova beat Kontaveit 6-4 6-3, breaking twice in the first set before fending off a more spirited challenge from here opponent in the second.

Kontaveit twice broke her opponent's serve in the second set, but with three breaks of her own, Sharapova never allowed herself to fall behind.

"I’m really enjoying myself," she said after the match. "I think that’s the one thing that, as I come off the court, I feel I can take away. When I’m in the match, I’m in the moment and focused on the next point, what I have to do. But when I come off the court, I realize how much I’m enjoying being in those moments.

"I didn’t have a great game serving for the match, but I felt like there was something on the line and I had to deliver, so I stepped up in the next game, hit the right shots and didn’t back up or back down. Those are the moments I love putting myself into."

Sharapova's fellow players continue to question her wildcard entry into this week's tournament, however – including her upcoming opponent.

Kristina Mladenovic will play the Russian in Saturday's semi-finals after beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-2, but she isn't entirely happy about it.

"Some other players also got the right to come back [after a positive test], but they didn't get invitations to tournaments," she said.

"She is authorised to come back and play tennis, but why would she get that extra help?"

Friday's results in Stuttgart

Laura Siegemund (Germany) beat Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-3 
Kristina Mladenovic (France) beat Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) 6-3 6-2             
Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) 6-3 6-4   
Simona Halep (Romania) bt Anastasija Sevastova (Latvia) 6-3, 6-1

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