When she got to the court for her first match after 15 months, few believed that Maria #Sharapova could beat No. 2 seeded Simona Halep. But after an epic contest, the Russian player knocked-off her Romanian contender 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Monday night. The U.S. Open marks the comeback of the Russian star, who was serving a suspension for a positive doping test.

Upon the confirmation of her victory, she dropped to her knees, and one could see tears in her eyes. After getting up, she addressed the public in the court. “Behind all these Swarovski crystals and little black dresses, this girl has a lot of grit, and she’s not going anywhere,” she said according to The Telegraph.

The match: tight and emotional

Sharapova, who is a five-time grand slam winner, has an unmistakable style of play. She always begins with a lot of disposition and an attacking approach that earned her an important 6-4 in the first set. In the second set, Sharapova demonstrated some fatigue and lost for 4-6, after leading for 4-1. She then confirmed the victory over Halep, a two-time French Open runner-up, with a 6-3.

Sharapova’s triumph on Monday leads her to the second round of the tournament. There is still a long path ahead of her whether she is taking seriously the aim of making her way to the #US Open final and, perhaps, winning the title. That would be a great feat in the career of the 30-year-old Russian tennis player, who won the same U.S. Open back in 2006.

Doping and setbacks

Sharapova was suspended after being tested positive for the newly banned heart drug meldonium, at the Australia Open in January 2016.

She was allowed to return to the courts in April 2017, although she was not well ranked enough to take part at the French Open, in May. Once number 1 in the world, Sharapova is currently the 146th, and she is only playing the U.S. Open due to a wild card invitation issued by the U.S. Tennis Association.

Halep, currently ranked number 2, was one of the eight female players who could, at the end of the U.S. Open, become the number 1 in the WTA (Women Tennis Association) rank. After being beaten by Sharapova in the very first round, she risks moving down in the rank.

Not the first time

Sharapova and Halep faced each other in the French Open final in 2014 when the Russian won her last grand slam title. In the head to head matchup against Halep, Sharapova holds an unquestionable 7-0.

In the next round, on Wednesday, Sharapova will face the young Tímea Babos. The 24-year-old Hungarian is currently the 35th in the rank. She made her way to the second round after beating the Swiss Viktorija Golubic. #No 2