Maria Sharapova was back on Roland Garros’ main stage for the first time in three years and put on a dazzling display as she demolished Czech sixth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-1 to reach the French Open fourth round.
Absent from the tournament for the last two years after failing a drugs test in 2016, organizers opted not to roll out the red carpet for her comeback as they scheduled her away from the main Philippe Chatrier court for her opening two matches.
But once she returned to the stage where she hoisted the Suzanne Lenglen trophy in 2012 and 2014, the Russian showed she was could still be a destructive force as she left 2017 semi-finalist Pliskova running for the exit after 59 minutes.
Next up will be a meeting with either her long-time nemesis Serena Williams, who has beaten Sharapova in 18 successive encounters dating back to 2005, or Germany’s Julia Goerges.
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