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Sharapova wins marathon at Sony Open
Question of the Day
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) - One point from victory, Maria Sharapova chased after a shot in the corner but couldn’t reach it, so she had to keep playing.
Nearly an hour later she was still at it, trying to win that elusive clinching point against stubborn Lucie Safarova.
“After a match like that, it’s tough to have only one winner,” Sharapova said, “because both players give a lot and both want to win so much.”
No. 1-ranked Serena Williams won a marathon, too, taking 2½ hours to eliminate Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Men’s No. 1 Rafael Nadal began a bid for his first Key Biscayne title by beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-3.
“She kept hitting unbelievable shots,” Sharapova said. “One more. One more. I said, ‘How many chances are you going to get?’ I thought our level was quite high in the end.”
The match took three hours and ended at 10 p.m. to conclude an 11-hour day session on the stadium court, with two night-session matches to come.
Williams‘ match was a thriller, too. A succession of long rallies left her grunting, stumbling, lunging, squealing, flailing her arms and scolding herself.
Despite all the drama and trauma, she moved one round closer to a record seventh Key Biscayne title.
Williams is playing in her first tournament after a monthlong layoff, and rustiness might explain her 41 unforced errors, including seven double-faults. The 20-year-old Garcia kept Williams on her heels with deep groundstrokes and serves that topped out at 117 mph.
“I can play a hundred times better,” Williams said. “I really gave myself a tremendous amount of trouble out there. Granted she played great, but I made so many errors … 40-something errors. It’s not the way to play professional tennis. Maybe amateur.”
Three-time champion Novak Djokovic was off Saturday but advanced to the fourth round anyway when his next scheduled opponent, Florian Mayer, withdrew because of a groin injury. Djokovic’s next match will be Tuesday.
No. 10-seeded John Isner rallied to win an all-American matchup against Donald Young, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4. Isner is back in the top 10 this week for the first time in 18 months.
By Michael Widlanski
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