Stuttgart (AFP) - Maria Sharapova was installed as the bookmakers' joint-favourite to capture the French Open on Friday despite the Russian star not even being guaranteed a place in the upcoming Grand Slam event.
Sharapova only returned to action in Stuttgart this week after a 15-month doping ban left her without a world ranking and depending on wild cards to enter the main draws of tournaments, including the French Open where she has twice been champion.
The 30-year-old will learn on May 16 whether or not Roland Garros organisers will grant her a wild card.
But bookmakers have no doubt that she will not only play in Paris, but go on to win the title especially in the absence of Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova.
Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfred and bet365 made five-time Grand Slam winner and former world No. 1 Sharapova the 6/1 favourite, the same odds as Romania's Simona Halep who has yet to claim a Grand Slam title.
Sharapova has looked impressive on her return, easing into the Stuttgart Open semi-finals without dropping a set in three matches.