Tennis star Sharapova gets set for China Open

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-07 14:00

Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova will compete at this year's China Open, marking her first tennis tournament in Asia since returning from a drug suspension in April.

The former world No 1, who won the women's singles title in 2014, will be making her seventh appearance at the event, which is staged in the fall at Beijing's National Tennis Center.

Thomas Ross, co-director of tournament, confirmed Sharapova's participation on Monday after meeting with the Russian star in the United States.

“Hello, my SharaFamily (Sharapova's fan club) in China. I'm very happy to announce that I will return to Beijing and play the China Open. This is especially exciting as it will be my first tournament in Asia this year,” Sharapova said in a statement.

“Whenever I play in Beijing, my SharaFamily always shows me such great support. I will never forget the last time I won the title in 2014, and how much you cheered for me on the Diamond Court. I am so grateful for your support, and look forward to seeing you soon.”

As one of four WTA Premier Mandatory tournaments, the China Open will be the highest-level hard court event Sharapova has played in since completing a 15-month doping ban for testing positive for meldonium, a heart and blood-boosting drug, at the 2016 Australian Open.

She claimed she had taken the medicine for years and did not know it had been placed on the banned list at the beginning of last year. She was originally issued a two-year suspension, which was later reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on appeal.

With a total prize money of over $6.38 million and 1,000 ranking points on offer for the winner, the women's tournament of the China Open will offer direct berths to the world's top 47 female players for its 64-seed main draw as well as wild card entries.

If Sharapova cannot improve her current ranking of No 171 before the event, the China Open will provide her a wild card, the organizing committee said.

One of the world's top female tennis stars, Sharapova shot to fame at 17 when she won the 2004 Wimbledon Championship, her first major trophy. She went on to win the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open twice, in 2012 and 2014.

The China Open, the biggest combined tournament in Asia, also features an ATP 500 event. World No 1 and defending champion Andy Murray of Britain and Spain's 15-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal have signed up to play in the men's 32-seed main draw this year.

The tournament will be held from Sept 24 to Oct 8. Tickets are now on sale, including at the official website,

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