Maria Sharapova set up a grudge match against Eugenie Bouchard as she continued her return from a drugs ban with a first-round win at the Madrid Open on Sunday.
Sharapova advanced in the Spanish capital on Sunday (NZT Monday), setting up the showdown with the Canadian tennis ace who called the Russian a "cheater" on her return in April, saying she should not be allowed back on the WTA Tour.
Sharapova, who served a 15-month doping ban after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, has received wild cards into Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome. But it's very important, once I step on the court, no matter who is on the other side, to focus on the tennis.
"I don't think that's right and (Sharapova is) definitely not someone I can say I look up to any more".
A MONTH AFTER Eugenie Bouchard labelled Maria Sharapova "a cheater" and said "cheaters" shouldn't be allowed play again, the pair will meet at the Madrid Open tonight. "But those are all things that are normal and are part of the process, part of kind of the journey that I've started".
But if Sharapova was looking to silence her opponent, Bouchard was equally motivated to back up her comments and claimed a hard-fought first set 7-5.
"My tennis speaks for itself", Sharapova said.
The five-time Grand Slam victor tested positive for heart disease drug meldonium - which had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) list of prohibited substances just weeks before - at the 2016 Australian Open and was subsequently handed a two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).More news: Trump congratulates golfer John Daly for winning PGA event
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In an earlier first-round match, British No. 1 Johanna Konta suffered a surprise defeat to Germany's Laura Siegemund 6-3, 5-7, 4-6.
"If everything affects you on and off the court, I think that would be a really challenging position to be in". I mean, for a couple of sets, I don't believe we had too many rallies over three balls. "But, you know, inside myself, I think I'll have a bit more motivation". World number eight Cilic defeated Raonic in a battle of big hitters to secure his 17th career title - just his second on clay - in little over two hours.
"Sad that I didn't win today but I played against a great player, a great champion", Pella said.
"I'm kind of the driver of that", she said.
Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 2015 finalist in Madrid, cruised past compatriot Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 6-3.
Sharapova was noticeably annoyed with Bouchard's lengthy toilet break after the second set, speaking with the umpire and practicing her serve to try and maintain her momentum.
Kerber has also not had the best season but eased to a 6-4 6-2 win over Timea Babos while Halep thumped Kristyna Pliskova 6-1 6-2.