Maria Sharapova
Sharapova eyes ascendancy in grudge match against Bouchard Reuters

Maria Sharapova is all set to take on Canada's Eugenie Bouchard in the Women's singles second round of 2017 Madrid Open on Monday.

With Bouchard labelling Sharapova "a cheater" and reportedly speaking against her return from a 15-month-long drug ban, the match between the two in Madrid is one of the highly anticipated tennis fixtures of the week.

While the 23-year-old Canadian has fired the first shot off the court, she needs to be at her best to outclass the Russian, who is looking focussed on her return to court.

Sharapova looked like she had not spent any time off court when she returned to competitive action at last month's Stuttgart Open. Her returns were more decisive than ever and she even showed a considerable improvement with her serves and movement on the red drit.

Opening her campaign with a win over Roberta Vinci, the Russian progressed to the semi-final, in which she lost to Kristina Mladenovic in three sets. The run to the last-four stages of Stuttgart should have given the wildcard entrant a lot of confidence amidst all the criticism surrounding her comeback.

Having beaten Bouchard in all four of their earlier meetings, including two on clay, the 2014 champion looks set to make the progress in Madrid. The Russian also displayed a lot of fighting skills when she came back from being a set down to take the opening round match against Lucic-Baroni 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 yesterday.

On the other hand, Bouchard, who took the WTA circuit by storm when she reached three majors semi-final in 2014, has not been able to continue her form and her 2017 season has not got off to a good start with early exits in Melbourne, Acapulco, Indian Wells, Miami, Monterrey and Istanbul.