Maria Sharapova wins again in Stuttgart but Johanna Konta is out

Maria Sharapova hit nine aces and 29 winners against Makarova
Maria Sharapova hit nine aces and 29 winners against Makarova

Russia's Maria Sharapova says she is "way above" responding to criticism of her comeback by rivals after reaching the quarter-finals of her first WTA event following a 15-month doping ban.

Sharapova, called a "cheat" by Eugenie Bouchard, beat Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1 at the Stuttgart Open, for which she received a wildcard entry.

When asked about Bouchard's comments, she said: "I'm looking forward."

Meanwhile Britain's Johanna Konta lost 6-3 7-5 to Anastasija Sevastova.

Sharapova looking powerful

In October, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Sharapova was not an "intentional doper".

The five-time Grand Slam winner dominated Makarova, ranked 43 in the world, wrapping up the victory in just one hour, 20 minutes.

Sharapova was powerful on serve, as she had been in Wednesday's win over Italy's Roberta Vinci, but struggled at times with her return.

Once she had claimed the first set with a late break of serve, she powered through the second, breaking twice before wrapping up the match with an ace.

In the last eight, the 30-year-old faces Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who was a 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 victor over Spanish fifth seed Garbine Muguruza.

Konta denied rematch with Halep

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta beat Japan's Naomi Osaka in the first round in Stuttgart

Meanwhile British number one Konta is out after her second-round defeat by Latvia's Sevastova.

Wednesday's first-round victory over Naomi Osaka was just Konta's third WTA Tour win on clay.

She began well on Thursday with a break of Sevastova's serve in the first game but lost the next three games and did not hold her own serve until the fourth attempt.

Sevastova, ranked 19 places below Konta at 26, produced three successive aces en route to clinching the opening set before recovering from 3-1 down in the second to level.

A missed forehand opportunity then cost Konta as she was broken in the 11th game and Sevastova served out the victory with her sixth ace.

Had Konta won, she would have faced Romania's Simona Halep in the third round.

Those two were involved in Sunday's controversial Fed Cup meeting in Constanta. Konta beat Sorana Cirstea after leaving the court in tears but found Halep a tougher opponent, losing 6-1 6-3.

Sharapova maintains mental hold - analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller:

She may not have figured in any draw for 15 months, but it appears Sharapova still has a strong mental hold on so many of her opponents.

Makarova had a glorious chance to hit a backhand winner into open court to break for a 6-5 lead, but missed. She then dropped her serve to concede the set, and only won one more game after that.

It was another strong performance by Sharapova, and she then moved to the media centre to make it clear she no longer wishes to discuss the details of her positive test for meldonium.

She says she has done "numerous interviews in the past few months" - which overlooks the fact that journalists and publications, like the fashion magazine Vogue, have been very carefully selected.

Konta, meanwhile, admits her clay-court game is a work in progress, but thinks she is playing well enough to prove effective on the surface.

She says she needs to improve her movement and her point construction, but was not too downhearted by her start to the clay season. She has won two and lost two, and will next play in Madrid in 10 days time.

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