DOHA: Maria Sharapova, the five-time Grand Slam winner suffered a shock defeat in the first round of the Qatar Open by outsider Monica Niculescu.
Monica Niculescu, ranked number 92 in the world, defeated the Russian star by 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
The match was continued for more than two and a half hours, Sharapova hit 52 unforced errors as opposed to just 17 from Niculescu.
It was the 30-year-old´s first appearance in Doha since 2013 and her first match since losing to Angelique Kerber in the third round of the Australian Open last month.
Sharapova returned to tennis last April after completing a 15-month ban for failing a drug test.
A jubilant Niculescu described it afterwards as “a very good win” as well as “a tough match”.
While talking to media she said that she loves it and adding that I like to be unique and I think my slice forehand is a weapon.
Nine of the top ten women´s players are competing in Doha this week, but arguably Sharapova was the biggest attraction.