A lot of talking has been around about Maria Sharapova returning to the WTA Tour. Her critics mostly targeted her being given wild-cards to all significant clay court events except for the french open where an official decision on the matter is yet to be made. To all those criticizing her, Sharapova seems to have a single way to respond- on the tennis court where she feels like a fish on the water.

In Stuttgart, she seems on the verge of building something special at her first WTA event since 2016 Australian Open. While many top-seeded players including top 10 stars were eliminated in the first two rounds, the Russian made no mistakes in booking herself a spot in the last eight, and she did so without dropping a single set.

Roberta Vinci was the first casualty followed by Makarova

The draw put Roberta Vinci in Sharapova's way in Stuttgart, and the Russian needed two sets to move forward. It was a compelling 7-5 6-3 victory which saw the former champion bursting out her emotion in the end. Makarova came up next as she breezed past Agnieszka Radwanska in the opening round.

As in her first match, the first set went toe to toe up until 5-5. Once she disrupted her opponent, Sharapova saw all the good things going on her side of the court. The second set was a simple walk in the park as she cruised past Makarova. With 7-5 6-1 as the final score, she is now heading into the quarterfinals where Anett Kontaveit awaits. Kontaveit delivered a shocker against Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, by recovering after being a set down against the Spain's no.


Stuttgart stood well behind Sharapova during the first two matches

The German crowd seemed quite happy to have one of its former champions back on the field. On the same side of the draw with Angelique Kerber, it's gonna be interesting to watch how the crowd will react if they'll face each other. Maria Sharapova could bump into the world no.

If she gets past Konvaveit. And of course, Kerber must win the upcoming two matches to reach the semis.

The doping scandal cast a dark shadow over Sharapova, and it's likely to remain a shade looming over her head in the future. Even so, she is one of the iconic characters of women's tennis and a consistent high-calibre player for more than a decade.

It might be easy to forget, but except for Serena Williams, she is the only still active players who won all four Grand Slams. And from a financial view her being back on tour is unquestionably a winning card.