Sharapova escapes 2nd-round test at Australian Open

Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) – Staring match point in the face,
Maria Sharapova let lose a thunderous forehand and showed challenger Alexandra
Panova why she’s ranked No. 2 in the world.

Sharapova trailed 4-1 in the third set, staved off a pair of match points and
survived for one of her most memorable comeback victories in an improbably
entertaining second-round match at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The match lasted 2 1/2 hours, the third set alone taking 68 minutes despite
Panova jumping out to a commanding lead with a pair of breaks of Sharapova’s
serve.

Sharapova earned one back but trailed 5-4 and faced two match points. On the
first, the five-time Grand Slam winner let loose a powerful winning forehand
on a second serve that hugged the line. The second was a longer point also won
by Sharapova with a forehand, and from there Panova wilted.

Sharapova won the game, held at love and quickly earned two match points of
her own. She only needed one, as Panova was long at the end of a lengthy rally
to secure Sharapova’s 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 victory.

The 25-year-old Panova entered the season’s first major as a qualifier and
came in ranked 150th in the world. She lost all five of her previous Grand
Slam matches before cruising past Sorana Cirstea on Monday.

Sharapova, who committed 51 unforced errors and six double faults, won this
major tournament in 2008 and was twice a runner-up. The former World No. 1
exited in the fourth round last year.

Her next opponent is the winner of the match between No. 31 Zarina Diyas and
Anna Schmiedlova.

Other seeded winners were No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 21 Peng Shuai and
No. 22 Karolina Pliskova.

American Christina McHale lost in straight sets to Carina Witthoeft, who
advanced to set up a match against Irina-Camelia Begu.

Other second-round winners on Day 3 were: Lucie Hradecka, Julia Goerges,
Yanina Wickmayer, Yaroslava Shvedova and Caroline Garcia.

Third-seeded French Open finalist Simona Halep and seventh-seeded Canadian
star Eugenie Bouchard will also be in action on Wednesday.