Jan 20, 2015 11:55 PM

Sharapova saves 2 match points, advances at Australian Open

The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Maria Sharapova saved two match points in a narrow escape against No. 150-ranked Alexandra Panova at the Australian Open on Wednesday, advancing to the third round with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 win.

Second-seeded Sharapova made 51 unforced errors as she went for the lines, saving some of her high-risk winners for when she needed them most.

She faced two match points in the 10th game of the third set, ripping big forehand winners on both points against Panova, a qualifier who entered the Australian Open without a single match win at five previous majors.

Sharapova, who won the 2008 Australian Open and has five Grand Slam titles, struggled with her serve in the second and third sets as the match extended to 2 hours, 32 minutes in a temperatures topping 33 Celsius (91F).

"I'm just happy to get through I was one point away twice today from being out of the tournament," said Sharapova, who started the season by winning the Brisbane International title. "I was not playing my best tennis today.

"I think she played a pretty inspired match. She came out here with not much to lose and swinging freely and going for her shots."

Sharapova is the only Grand Slam champion in contention in her half of the draw.

In earlier second-round matches, No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova beat Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-4, No. 21 Peng Shuai had a 6-1, 6-1 win over Magdalena Rybarikova and Carina Witthoeft beat Christina McHale 6-3, 6-0.

On the men's side, Andy Murray didn't let the parochial crowds in Margaret Court Arena bother him as he beat Australian Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.

Matosevic's first-round opponent, Alexander Kudryavtsev, accused boisterous Australian fans of behaving like "animals" after losing in five sets to the Melbourne resident.

After Wednesday's match, Murray laughed as he said: "It was a fun atmosphere to play today. Even if not everyone was supporting me."

Seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych advanced with a 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-2 win over Austrian qualifier Jurgen Melzer.

Berdych, a Wimbledon finalist in 2010, lost to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals last year at Melbourne Park, where he has reached the quarterfinals or better ever since 2011.


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