Maria Sharapova’s return from a 15-month doping suspension wasn’t exactly the triumphant comeback she may have imagined. Returning to the WTA tour in April, the former No. 1 was immediately granted a wildcard spot for the Stuttgart, Madrid, and Italian Open. But the best she could come up with was a semi-final finish at Stuttgart.
Now, she’s finally looking like herself again. Playing at the Bank of the West Classic, Sharapova defeated American youngster Jennifer Brady in front of a supportive crowd at Stanford University. Later today (Wednesday), she faces seventh seed Lesia Tsurenko in the second round.
While it’s not much, it’s a sign Sharapova may finally be reclaiming her form as well as her fans. Her return has been plagued with disappointing results, denied wildcards, and nagging injuries. Has she finally turned a corner? Here’s a look at the odds.
Maria Sharapova Odds
Odds Sharapova is granted a wildcard to the US Open: 9/11
Sharapova was denied a wildcard entry to the French Open after three disappointing results over the clay season and skipped Wimbledon due to injury. Even if she had been injury-free, it wasn’t guaranteed she would be granted a spot at the All England Club.
Having missed the entire grass-court season, the former US Open winner is at the mercy of event organizers. While a wildcard entry makes a lot of sense from a business perspective, it would definitely be met with criticism by the tennis community.
Many of the biggest names in tennis — Andy Murray, Angelique Kerber, and Caroline Wozniacki, just to name a few — have been vocal opponents of granting Sharapova entry. But with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic missing for the rest of the season, the US Open is in need of some big names.
If Sharapova impresses at Stanford, a Grand Slam wildcard may finally be coming her way.
Over/Under on year-end ranking: 50.5
At the time of her suspension, Sharapova was thriving in the top ten. But now, after a few false starts and a handful of disappointing results, she’s ranked 171. A decent finish at the Bank of the West Classic would go a long way for her and a wildcard entry to the US Open would be a godsend. However, time is quickly running out for the five-time Grand Slam champ and she’s got a lot of ground to make up.
Odds Sharapova wins at least one title in 2017: 1/1
Sharapova has a decent shot at the ongoing Bank of the West Classic, but she’ll have to contend with Garbiñe Muguruza and Petra Kvitová in order to win it. At 30 years old, the Russian superstar is clearly on the decline, but still has a few good years left in the tank.
Barring another injury, she stands a decent chance of picking up her first title since the Rome Masters in 2015.