Garcia dumps fit-again Sharapova out in Stuttgart
Caroline Garcia inflicted more misery on Maria Sharapova by consigning the former world number one to a first-round defeat at the Stuttgart Open on Tuesday.
Sharapova split with long-time coach Sven Groeneveld after losing to Naomi Osaka in the opening round at Indian Wells last month and withdrew from the Miami Open due to a forearm injury.
The fit-again 31-year-old this week spoke of her desire to add to her tally of five grand slam titles, but has not won a match since the Australian Open after Garcia consigned the Russian to a 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 defeat in her first clay-court match of the season.
Sixth seed Garcia had never beaten Sharapova in their previous four encounters, but finally got the better of the world number 41 - a three-time champion in Stuttgart - seven years after their first meeting at the French Open.
Wildcard entry Sharapova blasted down 17 aces and won 76 per cent of points on her first serve, but squandered a 2-0 lead in the final set to suffer an early exit.
Garcia was jumping for joy when Sharapova drilled a forehand wide and the world number seven can now look forward to a second-round clash with Marta Kostyuk, who defeated Antonia Lottner 6-4 6-1.
Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova eased to a 6-2 6-2 victory over Kiki Bertens and will be up against either Veronika Kudermetova or Carla Suarez Navarro in round two.