The year-before, Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova found her career significantly affected by the revelation of a failed drug test during her participation in the 2016 Australian Open. This saw her suspended for 15 (out of an original 24) months, during which she fell out of the world rankings altogether. After returning to active play earlier this year, Sharapova found herself struggling to enter major tennis tournaments to climb up the ladder once more, only to be frustrated at many turns. Finally, however, at the Tianjin Open in China, the 30-year-old veteran seized on the opportunity and won her first world title in two years, immediately seeing her Wta Ranking shoot up to the top 60.

Climbing up the ranks

The 2017 Tianjin Open is the fourth edition of the international WTA-level tournament held at the Tianjin International Tennis Center in the coastal city of Tianjin in China. This was the first time that Maria Sharapova ever entered the competition, actually her second in the country lately, after earlier competing in the 2017 China Open as a wildcard. Although she lost in the third round to Simona Halep of Romania, her prior victories in that tournament allowed her to re-enter the top 100 WTA ranking.

But it was at the Tianjin Open that Sharapova would see her tennis star rise once again to promising heights. She would defeat the 2016 Tianjin defending champion Peng Shuai in the semifinals, but the Chinese crowd was leaning more to her in this case.

It eventually came down to a finals showdown on Sunday, October 15, between the Russian against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, whom Sharapova overcame in a 7-5, 7-6 (10-8) match to win the title. It was her 36th tennis singles championship win, and she bulldozed all opposition in the Tianjin Open bracket without losing a single set.

The last time she did that was in Rome back in the 2015 Italian Open.

Return path to the Aussie

Sharapova’s victory at the Tianjin Open has just rocketed her formerly abyssal ranking in the WTA to a competitive number 57 as of Monday, October 16.

Before that, her China Open outing had put her back in the top 100 at rank 86, making her current position an impressive 29-place improvement. It also gave the Russian superstar a guaranteed direct entry into next year’s Australian Open, where she would have a chance to put her demons to rest in the tournament where she stumbled two years ago.

Her next outing after the Tianjin Open is at the 2017 Kremlin Cup in Moscow, where Sharapova has been given a wildcard entry into her home country as of last week.