Maria Sharapova

Rome, May 12 (IANS) Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, American Venus Williams and Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka started practice on Friday at the Foro Italico clay courts here for the Italian Open.

Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro, Americans John Insner, Sam Querrey and Madison Keys are in Rome where the draw is set to be held this afternoon, reports Efe.

Keys played in the Italian Open 2016 final against her compatriot Serena Williams, but Serena will miss this year’s edition because of pregnancy.

Venus started her preparation on Thursday, while Sharapova, the three-time Italian Open champion, practiced for the first time Friday morning, followed by men’s world No.3, Wawrinka.

Sharapova, former world No.1, returned to action in April. She was banned for 15 months after failing a drug test in the Australian Open in 2016.

Sharapova, the winner of five Grand Slam tournaments is hoping for a result after being knocked out of the Stuttgart Open by France’s Kristina Mladenovic during her first appearance, and beaten in the Madrid Open third round by Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

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