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Sharapova downs Halep in return to U.S. Open

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Maria Sharapova made an impressive return to Grand Slam tennis, beating No. 2-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the first round of the U.S. Open.

Sharapova received a wild card to play in her first major tournament since returning from a 15-month doping ban. And she made the most of it, ripping 60 winners to Halep’s 15 and wearing down the Romanian with punishing groundstrokes accented by loud grunts. She shrieked with joy when Halep hit a backhand long over the baseline to end the match.

Sharapova, whose five major titles include the 2006 U.S. Open, next faces 59th-ranked Timea Babos of Hungary, who defeated Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland 7-5, 5-7, 7-5.

Larsson beats Riske to win Nuremberg Cup

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NUREMBERG, Germany — Swedish player Johanna Larsson won her first WTA singles title in three years by beating Alison Riske of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the final of the Nuremberg Cup on Saturday.

Her only other career singles victory was on home soil at Bastad in 2015.

Having come from a set down to win matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Larsson rallied from a break down in the first set and won the last four points of the tiebreaker. Larsson then won the final five games to take the match and deny Riske a second career singles title.

“When I held for 4-2, I could see some signs that she was a little bit tired,” Larsson said, “and that gave me a lot of energy to fight back.”

Pavlyuchenkova labors past Cibulkova to win at Strasbourg

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STRASBOURG, France — Third-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia won the Strasbourg International after laboring to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6) win against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Saturday.

They spent 3 hours, 35 minutes on court in a grueling contest, which ended when Pavlyuchenkova sealed victory on her second serve.

Pavlyuchenkova won her first title of the year and 12th overall, beating Cibulkova for the fourth time in their 11 career meetings.

Fifth-seeded Cibulkova was bidding for her ninth career title.

Both players head to the French Open in Paris, where first-round play starts Sunday.

Cibulkova reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2009, while Pavlyuchenkova reached her only quarterfinal there in 2013.