This week, the WTA Tour has spread its wings across Europe having two WTA International events up and running in Prague and Rabat. Next week, the action will be focusing on Madrid as the Spain's capital is the host of a Premier Mandatory tournament. Moreover, it'll be a full-house event as all the WTA tennis stars are in the main draw one way or another.

Maria Sharapova who recently made her comeback to the WTA Tour is one of those being handed wild-card entry. The Russian who won the Madrid Open back in 2014 stands as a real threat for her rivals. In Stuttgart, her overall game was a compelling one despite losing in the semis against Mladenovic.

The draw in Madrid puts Sharapova in the same quarter with the world no. 2 Angelique Kerber as well as the Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard.

Sharapova needs to go deep into the higher stages in order to improve her ranking position

For the first round's match, Maria Sharapova is set to play against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a 35-year-old Croatian who is leaving the second youth these days. Ranked 20th in the world, Lucic-Baroni is a player who can produce real damages no matter who the opponent is.

Back in January, she reached the semis at the Australian Open where she lost to the eventual champion Serena Williams. Sharapova and Lucic-Baroni met only once back in 2011 in the French Open's inaugural round having the Russian as the eventual winner.

Regarding their style, the number of similarities is worth being taken into consideration as both are strong players possessing a big serve and a variety of powerful ground strokes from the baseline. It's that smart, aggressive style that gets the job done.

If she gets past the Croatian, Sharapova could bump into Eugenie Bouchard who despite a slow first part of the season remains a player to avoid especially in the early stages of a competition of such magnitude.

So far, Sharapova has won all the four meetings against Bouchard. Their possible collision emerged in the wake of some malicious comments from Bouchard who called the Russian being a cheater.

Sharapova is not the only receiving wild-card

For Madrid Mutua Open there are other WTA players with a low-ranking status benefiting from a wild-card entry.

Being a former champion and such a celebrity it's not hard to understand why the organizers decided to hand Sharapova an entry.

But the meritocracy criterion has been applied to other names too. Francesca Schiavone from Italy also received a wild-card especially after her formidable run in Bogota earlier this year when she capped a title. Sorana Cirstea who last year reached the last eight stages was also included on the list.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!