Eugenie Bouchard outlasts 'cheater' Sharapova in Madrid

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

Motivated more than usual, Eugenie Bouchard used her game to send a message to Maria Sharapova by defeating the Russian 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in a thrilling second-round match at the Madrid Open on Monday.

"I definitely had some extra motivation going into today", Bouchard said. In the following game it was Bouchard to save three break points in a row: from 15-40 Sharapova missed two backhand returns, then on 2-all the Russian saved other five break points, but on 3-all it was too much: she hit several unforced errors and got broken at love. Everything that surrounds myself, I don't really know a lot of it. I really felt support.

While so many people - including Sharapova's sponsor Nike - are willing to forgive and forget her drug offence, it was refreshing to hear Bouchard speak out.

Bouchard in April called the Russian multimillionaire a "cheater" and said she should not have been allowed to compete again following her doping ban.

Bouchard said Sharapova was "a cheater" and that "a cheater in any sport should not be allowed to play again".

Sharapova, a five-times grand slam victor, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. The German top seed overcame seven double faults and won the final four games to defeat the Czech in just under two hours. After beating Sharapova Monday, the 5-foot-10 Bouchard shook the 6-foot-2 Sharapova's hand at the net and then stared straight into her eyes.

Bouchard, 23, saw the five-time grand slam victor as her idol when she was growing up but her admiration vanished when Sharapova tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, which led to a 15-month suspension. "So I want to at least take advantage of that, just go for it, play good tennis, build on this, and enjoy it, kind of just show what I can do".

Although Sharapova's comeback after serving her ban had split opinion on both the men's and women's Tours with players including second-ranked Angelique Kerber and top-ranked Andy Murray criticizing tournaments for giving her a wild card, Bouchard has been the most vocal.

"What you work for for so many hours every single day is to be on the winning end of matches". Of course, I m disappointed. "I know that I can come back and win matches like that when I'm down, so that was actually what was going on in my mind in the third set". That s what s going to make me a better player.

However, Bouchard held her nerve when serving for the match at 5-4, defending two break points and an unfortunate let cord on her first match point. Bouchard has been in frightful form, but she played here with the confidence she showed en route to the Wimbledon final of 2014, and did not seem remotely fazed when Sharapova ran away with the second set.

Little would separate the two players in the final set, with Sharapova twice saving three break points as the match headed towards its finale.