Maria Sharapova made a huge save on court at the Australian Open. With a huge scare from American Lauren Davis she managed to work through the problems and win 6-1, 5-7(5), 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena Friday afternoon. The hard work she did became a milestone winning her 600th match in her long career.
The Russian hot shot got into the third round for the 13th time in her career to face the American who has shown some struggle so far. Though he earned an easy victory after Magdalena Rybarikova retired during the set break, the competition didn’t stay that way for her meeting against the number five ranked tennis star. The American hasn’t done well playing big named opponents but will give Sharapova a rough time on court as her skills are above that of average non ranked opponents.
Her win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the first round was a perfect example as the 22 year came back from losing 6-1 in the first set to taking winning the next two with a strong push and defense that ran her off. If a performance like her first round could come again, there could be a chance for an upset.
Sharapova and Davis worked well through three games to hold serve. By the fourth, things changed in favor of the Russian who broke ahead and took a three game lead on the American. A triple break run for Sharapova turned into a victory that got her into a 5-1 score serving for the set.
She let Davis get one point but put it away in 26 minutes with a shot that returned as an unforced error. It was her ninth of the match that had her being thrown for a loop while Sharapova succeeded on. The superstar scored four aces while landing 9 of 11 on the first serve and a flawless second.
Davis got aggressive in the second set taking a well deserved win from Sharapova in the second set while trying to suppress the power of her opponent across court. She didn’t in the second but a fight on deuce in the third had it through two breaks before Sharapova won the fifth break point chance to gain the lead. Davis fired back with ferocity, which caused Sharapova to rack up on the unforced errors leading her to loss of control.
The American had things well in hand taking a 4-2 lead on Sharapova inching closer to tying things in the match. Game Seven didn’t go her way as the Russian got her skills in order to take advantage of the break and get within a game of leveling with Davis.
The newfound life in her game had Game Nine important to both players, as the lead change would determine the fate of the match. For Davis, it put her in a great spot as the trick angled shots across court were beating Sharapova to give her a chance at continuing her tournament run.
Sharapova made a big statement in the tenth to stay level pegging with Davis and fight for control once more. It was a fight to the finish with Davis getting out front at 40-30 while on serve. Sharapova forced deuce but messed up on a shot that went right into the net. In the end it was Davis getting the lead to set her up a second time to win the set. She lost out with Sharapova on serve who played aggressive to win the game and move the set into a tiebreak for the match or for a deciding third set.
Things got very intense that the emotions showed on both opponents. Every point became so critical that on a 5-4 lead to Davis, she got into a 27 shot rally with Sharapova that ended with her unable to make the return near the net and miss. She made up for it taking the lead where on set point, the American forced Sharapova to redirect the ball falling wide of the court.
It set a record for Sharapova who allowed more games in the match than she had allowed in her last two games combined. The set went 77 minutes in what was turning into a serious problem for the Russian star and a light at the end of the tunnel for Davis. “I was up a break up 30-0 and I just let up,” Sharapova said about losing the second set to Rene Stubbs during her on court interview.
After each player took a break after nearly two hours of play, they both got the third set started where everything was on the line. For Sharapova, she wanted nothing more than to close Davis out and get into the round of 16 with some relief. She dominated with the same form from the first set taking a 4-0 commanding lead.
The aces for Sharapova helped her push on to get a love service and a fifth straight win. In the sixth, Sharapova held the break over Davis getting on match point for a second time where it all came to an end on Davis sending the ball long.
The match ended in 2 hours and 15 minutes with surpassed the amount of time spent on beating her first two opponents in the tournament. “You’re in a Grand Slam environment third round and against an opponent you’ve never played before that’s fired up and not just gonna give you the match and that’s exactly what happened. I’m quite happy that I was able to step up in the third set that was very important.”
She’ll face Belinda Bencic in the round of 16 who has experience bringing down giants in the tennis world. “That’s gonna be a tough one, Sharapova said about the Swiss teen. “She’s an inspired young player. She’s been playing incredibly well the last season and I’m glad to be in the fourth round. I’ve got a great opponent on the other side and I’m just gonna do everything to try and win that match.”