Maria Sharapova survives Caroline Garcia test to advance in Madrid
Last Updated: 06/05/15 4:35pm
Defending champion Maria Sharapova was given a severe test by Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia before coming through 6-2 4-6 7-5 to advance to the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open.
Sharapova ended the dramatic third-round contest with an ace, which had to be confirmed from the chair in a match that lasted more than two-and-a-half-hours.
The 28th-ranked Garcia, clearly peeved to have missed her chance against the five-time Grand Slam winner, gave an abbreviated "drive-by" handshake as the players met for a few quick seconds at the net, following protocol in name only.
Third-seed Sharapova started 2015 by winning 17 of her first 18 matches, but came to Madrid having lost three in a row.
She has now won 57 of her last 62 matches on clay as she waits to play either fifth-seed Caroline Wozniacki or No 9 Agnieszka Radwanska in the last eight.
Sharapova produced a dozen aces to 10 for her opponent, breaking Garcia five times and losing her own serve on three occasions.
Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, the fourth seed, advanced with ease over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1 6-4, with the Czech confirming that her clay game is still not where she wants it.
Romanian Irina Begu beat Barbora Strycova 6-4 6-4 to next take on Kvitova.
"I'm glad that I played better than yesterday for sure," said Kvitova, who took an extended break from the sport in recent weeks to ward off burnout and fatigue. "I played more aggressive than yesterday, that was important.
"If I had not, I think she would have smashed me.
"It's still taking some time to get to know each other well, and then we can start dating," the Czech joked about her "reacquaintance" with clay.
"I'm glad everything went well. I served well and the last game was really important. I didn't expect that I was going to play three, four matches here before the tournament, so I'm really glad to still be in."