Players 'scared' to criticise Sharapova, says Bouchard

The plan should eat into the country’s jet fuel exports which rose to a record of 7,41,000 tonnes in March according to preliminary government data

The plan should eat into the country’s jet fuel exports which rose to a record of 7,41,000 tonnes in March according to preliminary government data

She further added, "It shows that the majority of the people have the same opinion that I have and although they are anxious about speaking out in public, they will speak in private".

Bouchard had called Sharapova a cheat before the Russian's return to competitive action last month after a 15-month doping ban.

On the clay of the Court Manola Santana in Madrid, Sharapova initially let her racket do the talking as she took a 4-2 lead in the first set before losing a highly-entertaining yet error-strewn 70-minute first set 7-5 as she struggled to get less than half of her first serves in and produced six double faults.

The Canadian came through a thrilling encounter with Sharapova, winning 7-5 2-6 6-4 after nearly three hours on court.

She also threw shade at the nature of the veteran's return to the court, calling it a "so-called comeback".

"I feel like I'm like a broken-record player, but these tournaments are really important, " Sharapova said.

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Bouchard sets up a third round clash with top seed Angelique Kerber. The five-time Grand Slam champion and former top-ranked player will know on May 16 if she will be able to compete on a wild card in the French Open, which starts May 22. "And like this one, it was extremely tough, not many rallies, she forced me to come out with some of my good tennis and I really had to dig deep".

Sharapova was granted a wild-card into the WTA Premier tournament in Rome, which takes place between 14-21 May. The Canadian revealed she received good luck from quite a few in the tennis fraternity, who were against the Russian players' comeback. Yet Bouchard missed the chance to win the set when she dropped her serve to make it 5-5.

Bouchard's win is all the more remarkable because she hadn't managed to win a match in three-and-a-half months before she entered Madrid.

There's a famous photo in tennis circles from 15 years ago of an 8-year-old Bouchard posing with a much taller 15-year-old Sharapova at a tennis camp in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Sharapova said she didn't need extra motivation to play against anybody, adding: "I'm just one of the two players out on the court".

Against Mladenovic in Stuttgart, Sharapova had three break points to earn a shot at closing the match in straight sets.

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There appeared to be no outward signs of animosity between the two during the match and as they met to shake hands at the net afterward.

"It showed me that most people have my opinion, and they were just maybe scared to speak out, but privately I've gotten a lot of support, so I was inspired and motivated to play".

Kerber won 6-2 1-6 7-5 against Katerina Siniakova, while Anastasija Sevastova beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-3.

She's a cheater and so to me ...

But with her trademark fighting spirit in tow, Sharapova refused to go down quietly, breaking back nearly immediately to draw level at four-games-all with two hours and 38 minutes on the clock.

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