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Sharapova bows out

STUTTGART, Germany (AFP) – Maria Sharapova said more tough matches are her priority after losing in the semi-finals in Stuttgart on her controversial comeback from a 15-month doping ban.

Maria Sharapova  (Bernd Weissbrod/dpa via AP)

Maria Sharapova (Bernd Weissbrod/dpa via AP)

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner and former world number one, lost 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Kristina Mladenovic in a gruelling two-hours, 38-minute showdown.

‘‘I’m not angry, I’d have loved to have used the opportunity when I was ahead in the second set, so I had a bit of a let down which allowed her to get back in the match, gain confidence and play well,’’ said Sharapova, who was playing her first tournament after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

‘‘I didn’t keep putting that pressure on her and if you allow that to happen to a player like her, it becomes dangerous.’’

Sharapova also has wild cards for the Madrid and Rome tournaments and leaves Stuttgart with a world ranking of 260 having arrived here on zero following her ban.

She will learn on May 16 whether she will be given a wild card for the main draw at the French Open where she has twice been champion.