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Sharapova should 'start from bottom'

Wozniacki says it's disrespectful that Russian star is allowed to make immediate return after drugs ban

Maria Sharapova's planned return from a 15-month drugs ban at Stuttgart next month is "disrespectful" to other WTA players, said former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

The tournament will already be underway when five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova's suspension ends on 
April 26. She'll play her first match that day.

"I think it's very questionable, allowing - no matter who it is - a player that is still banned to play a tournament that week," Wozniacki said yesterday morning (Singapore time).

"I think it's disrespectful to the other players and the WTA."

Wozniacki said she had no problem with Sharapova, whose ban for a positive test for meldonium was reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, returning to the game.

But she said the Russian star, whose world ranking has been wiped out by her absence, should play her way back into tournaments.

"I think everyone deserves a second chance, and I think that she's going to come back and she's going to fight her way back," Wozniacki said.

"I'm sure she's going to play well. But, at the same time, I feel like when a player is banned for drugs, I think that someone should start from the bottom and fight their way back, because it's different from an injury where someone is out because they had hurt themselves.


"When someone has been banned for drugs and something that is performance enhancing, I think that you deserve a second chance like everybody else, people make mistakes.

But I think you should fight your way back from the bottom."

Wozniacki spoke after a brisk 6-3, 6-0 victory over Poland's Magda Linette in the second round of the Indian Wells hardcourt tournament.

Second-seeded Angelique Kerber, assured of a return to the world No. 1 ranking at tournament's end after the injury withdrawal of Serena Williams, cruised into the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over fellow German Andrea Petkovic.

In the men's draw, world 
No. 1 Andy Murray crashed out of the Indian Wells when he lost in straight sets to Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil.

Pospisil, ranked 129th in the world, triumphed 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), sealing the biggest win of his career on his fourth match- point to the delight of a stadium court crowd won over by the underdog's aggressive serve-and-volley style.

For Britain's Murray, it was yet another disappointing outing in the California desert, where his best showing is a 2009 runner-up finish to Rafael Nadal.


Last year, Murray was bundled out in the third round, but he was hoping for much better as he arrived fresh off his 45th career ATP title in Dubai.

"I don't know exactly why it is, because in practice here normally I play pretty well," Murray said.

"And then some years I played well. Some years, it just hasn't quite happened for me. I don't know exactly why that is."

Earlier, Italian Fabio Fognini won a battle of fathers-to-be when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-4.

Unseeded Fognini survived a first-set tiebreak and a tense final set before upsetting the seventh-seeded Frenchman in a match that stretched nearly two hours and 30 minutes.

Fognini's wife, 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, is expecting a child in late May, while Tsonga is also set to become a father next month. - WIRE SERVICES

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