Maria Sharapova will back in tennis action soon as the wild-card entrant is preparing for Wta Stanford 2017. The Russian tweeted "Hey Stanford" on Friday with pictures of herself on the practice court at the event. The tournament, which is also called The Bank of the West Classic, features Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza, and Madison Keys.

While Victoria Azarenka recently pulled out of the event, Sharapova may face one or more of those top players in the upcoming week. In order for any one of those match-ups to take place, the Russian will need to survive, for starters, a first-round match against American Jennifer Brady.

Brady and Sharapova will meet for the first time

The meeting between Brady and Sharapova will be the first on tour between the tour players. There is a big gap in age as Sharapova is now 30 years old while her opponent is just 22. Heading into the tournament, Brady is ranked 77th in the world. She has no career titles and her record-to-date this season is 14-15.

She certainly appears to be on the cold side heading into the event in California this week. Although she made the fourth round of the Australian Open very early this season, she actually only has one main-draw match win in numerous events since that result. Otherwise, she has some wins in qualifiers, but the American tennis player does not look very impressive at this stage of her career.

Sharapova might face Keys in the quarters

Sharapova seems probable to survive the first-round contest. In her micro-section of the draw, one finds both Lara Arruabarrena and Lesia Tsurenko. The high seed near Sharapova is Madison Keys with a third-round match between the Russian and the American possible in Stanford.

That would be a quarterfinal match in the 28-player tournament. Sharapova and Keys are on the same half of the draw as top-seeded Muguruza. Ana Konjuh is also on the top half of the draw in the event and all roads to the final in that section of the draw will likely go through her or the reigning Wimbledon champion.

Sharapova is in Stanford by virtue of a wild card. She has plenty of those coming up in the next few weeks. Besides Stanford, she has a wild card for entry into the 2017 Rogers Cup. Additionally, Sharapova was recently given a wild card for the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

That doesn't mean that she will get a wild card into the US Open. However, her ranking is high enough that she'll be able to challenge the qualifying draw.

If she has a good result in Stanford, then Sharapova will be less reliant on wild cards in the future. But the big ranking-point tournaments coming up are the ones in Toronto, Cincinnati, and New York.

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