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Maria Sharapova appeared today in The Today Show to talk about the reduction of her suspension.

Speaking out for the first time since her doping ban was reduced from two years to 15 months, tennis star Maria Sharapova says her initial penalty was unfair, labeling it “one of the toughest things” she’s ever had to face as a professional athlete.

“For an honest mistake, a two-year ban, I don’t think was correct,” Sharapova told Matt Lauer on TODAY Wednesday.

 

Maria gave her first interview today to Charlie Rose, in there she talked about the ban, the ITF and her return to the courts in 2017. Check out the interview below:

Maria Sharapova took over two hours to defeat Swiss teen Belinda Bencic 7-5, 7-5 under the roof of the Rod Laver Arena. Maria also established a personal record of 21 aces in a match, and that makes Maria the tournament leader with 52 aces.

In the first set, Maria had break points in the first two service games of Bencic, all of them were saved. A doble fault handed the Swiss the first break of the match to lead 3-2. However, the lead didn’t last too much as it was followed by a run of four consecutive breaks. As Bencic served to force a tiebreak, an unforced error gave Maria the first set.

The second set was full of opportunities for Maria, but the young Swiss wasn’t going to give in that easily. Once again Bencic found herself serving to stay in the match as the Russian lead 6-5.

Maria had a match point on Bencic’s serve, which she failed to capitalized after dumping a backhand into the bottom of the net. In her second match point, Sharapova responded with an amazing return which was called out, but the Russian wasn’t convinced and a challenge confirmed her pass to the quarterfinals.

In the next round Maria will face No. 1 Serena Williams.

What a match that was! Maria Sharapova struggled to reach the 4th round of the Australian Open. She had to play American Lauren Davis and after over two hours she won the match 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 6-0. Maria will play Belinda Bencic from Switzerland in the next round, they have never met before.

But that’s not all this win is Maria’s 600th win of her career, and is the 17th female player to achieve this. In the post-match on court interview, Maria said: “Oh wow, I’ve won 600 matches? A friendly reminder that I’m getting older?”

Maria dominated the first set (26 minutes) only making four unforced errors, she won the set 6-1. The second set turned out to be more complicated after being up a break, Davis broke back and leveled it up to 2-2. Both players held their serve and forced to a tiebreak where a forehand unforced error gave Davis the second set.

In the last set, Maria came back on court and controlled the rest of the match, winning in an amazing 6-0.

Maria defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus to advance to the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Maria won 6-2 6-1 in 71 minutes.

In the first set, Maria started the match strongly as she built a 4-0 lead. Serving for the set at 5-1, Maria’s serve was broken after a long deuce game but re-grouped in the next game to break Sasnovich to 30 and won the set with a blistering forehand winner.

Maria’s form from the first set continued in the second set as she took a 3-0 lead and dropped only one more game on her road to a place in the last 32. In the final game of the set, Maria held her serve to 15 and won match point when her opponent hit a forehand error.

In Friday’s third round match, Maria will play either world No.103 Lauren Davis of the United States. Maria has never played the 22-year-old before.

Q. First match of the season for you. Pleased with that effort?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I guess I am. It was just nice to get on court and face the opportunity of playing a first match. No matter how much you train, it’s always different when you walk out onto the court. Definitely a relief to get that first one out of the way, yeah.

Q. Are there extra nerves after such a layoff, after the injuries, all of that stuff?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, there’s always a little bit of nerves, sometimes more, sometimes less, going into any Grand Slam, but especially when it’s your first tournament of the season. Just a different feeling. I try not to focus so much on the opponent or the atmosphere and just really focus on myself and try to bring the positives of a good training week, just try to execute that, yeah, keep it simple.

Q. What were you particularly pleased about today in your game, and to the extent there was any rust, where were you feeling it most?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I felt like I adjusted quite well to the conditions, although you don’t really notice it. There’s quite a breeze going to one side. I think just moving your feet, I definitely started moving back a little too much towards the end of the second set. I wasn’t as aggressive as I was during the whole match. That gave her a chance to get back in the points.

Overall I could have returned better. Served quite well, yeah.

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Maria won her first match of 2016 at the Australian Open in Melbourne after a 6-1 6-3 win over Nao Hibino of Japan. The match was 73 minutes long under the lights on Hisense Arena.

The first set lasted 32 minutes as Maria got the first break to lead 2-0. At 5-1, Maria didn’t drop a point on her serve as she won the set on a punishing backhand winner.

Maria got another early break in set two as broke in the first game and took a 5-1 lead. At 5-1, Maria was broken serving for the match but re-grouped in the next game to break her opponent and a forehand winner booked her spot in the last 64.

On Wednesday, Maria will face world No.105 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus. Maria has never played the 21-year-old before who is playing in her first Australian Open main draw.