If you are just returning from a long spell on the moon with your fingers in ears and your head in a box - then you'll be the only one to not know that Maria Sharapova has returned from a ban for taking meldonium.

The gutsy French world number 19 Kristina Mladenovic stands between Sharapova and a dream comeback at the WTA final in Stuttgart that not even the most adventurous Hollywood hack could have scripted.

Sharapova made her way through opponents she could not have handpicked better herself

The absence of Serena Williams through pregnancy, Petra Kvitova through recovery from an attack alongside the early departures Garbine Murguruza and of the out-of-sorts Angelique Kerber all helped Sharapova.Kerber went at the hands of Mladenovic.

This must have led to high expectations for this controversial return from the Russian. This is especially given the fact that she won't have met nor meet a seed until at least the final.

Whilst being a Grand Slam finalist in the past - Roberta Vinci was always unlikely to offer up a great deal of resistance to Sharapova in the first round. Before their eagerly anticipated first round match - Vinci had taken only five games off the Russian in two previous encounters and despite a shaky start, it didn't take long for this match to adopt a similar pattern of Sharapova domination. This was the confidence shot in the arm that Maria craved, as she moved on to book her semi-final berth with victories over compatriot Makarova and Kontaveit.

Kristina Mladenovic is a completely different kettle of fish

Capable of serving at a speed of 200km plus and possessing an unpredictability on court due to her shot range - makes the feral 23-year-old French lady a dangerous opponent who will no doubt add to her one WTA singles title very soon, if not really soon.

The above mentioned straight sets victory over Kerber in the second round shows that confidence is high and expectation will be rising amongst her compatriots for the next Grand Slam - the French Open 201.

The prospect of a home victory is getting stronger especially given Mladenovic's smooth return to clay.

A semi-final appearance at Indian Wells, featuring a victory over the in-form Caroline Wozniacki en route is helping to shape what looks like being a great season.

Odds of 7/4 makes Mladenovic a good bet to make the final

This match must have caused several headaches amongst odds compilers given the lack of recent form in the case of Sharapova and, with Mladenovic being the highest ranked player she has played in well over a year, in competitive tennis.

It is submitted that the firm Marathon Bet has got it wrong by pricing Mladenovic up at 7/4 (she is generally available at 13/8). Given her confidence and increased consistency, this season - Kristina is a good bet to make the final and put an end to the Sharapova comeback story - for now.