The highlight of Tuesday at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2014 was undoubtedly Maria Sharapova's return to the center court as the Russian has her sights set on a third straight Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title (and a third Porsche to put in her garage).
Sharapova met Lucie Safarova in the first round, mirroring their match in 2013 when both players met in round two. Like a year ago, the 180 minutes match provided plenty of drama as Safarova forced a third set with a courageous performance, helped by the capacity crowd that smelled an upset that ultimately never came as Sharapova prevailed.
The Russian's victory does not just keep her spotless Porsche Tennis Grand Prix history intact, it also happened to be Sharapova's 100th clay court win.
Photos by: Jimmie48
Maria Sharapova was far from being the only successful Russian today as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alisa Kleybanova both won their first round matches in straight sets, beating Ajla Tomljanovic & Daria Markinkevica respectively.
The efforts of Klara Koukalova & Annika Beck were met with less success. While the newly-divorced Czech fell prey to Sara Errani, Beck had no chance against Errani's fellow doubles partner Roberta Vinci. Still, the young German was happy with her efforts this week, successfully fighting all the way through qualifiers to make the main draw.
Speaking of happy players, Gioia Barbieri was very pleased with her Stuttgart run as well. The Italian might have been bested by Svetlana Kuznetsova today but getting through the qualifying field and upsetting #1 seed Tsvetana Pironkova gave Barbieri plenty of reason to be all smiles about her performance this week.
While Sharapova was among the first big-name players to hit center court, the tournament's top seeds enjoyed a day off thanks to their byes.
While top seed Agniezska Radwanska addressed the media, #2 seed Simona Halep took the practice court, sporting brand new Adidas gear. The Romanian signed a brand new sponsorship deal with the German company last week, leaving Lacoste after several successful years.
There's much more to come from Stuttgart in the coming days so keep checking back as Women's Tennis Blog will take you as close to the action as possible!