Sharapova powers through after slow start
Maria Sharapova overcame a sluggish start to book her place in the fourth round of the Sony Open in Miami after beating Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-2.
The Russian, playing her first match since lifting the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells last week, found herself trailing 3-1 after going down an early break in the first set. However, her experience shone through as the world No. 2 was able to stamp her authority on the match to dominant her fellow Russian and clinch a straight-sets win.
The French Open champion was unable to control her opponent in the opening exchanges of the first set, enabling Vesnina to win three of the first four games to hold a healthy break and 3-1 lead.
But, Sharapova began to put her foot on the gas and increased the pressure, winning four games in a row to move to within a game of the set at 5-3.
Vesnina managed to stop the rot by taking the ninth game, but Sharapova after an hour served for the set and seized the initiative to move in front. At that point, it appeared Vesnina's spirits had been dampened.
Looking like she was going to be broken in the opening game of the second set, Vesnina showed some bottle and managed to hold serve by saving two break points. When Sharapova made it 1-1 though, the 25-year-old could not be thwarted in Vesnina's following service game.
The break saw Sharapova gain all the momentum, and five games on the spin meant she was within touching distance of the finishing line, which she eventually crossed in the eighth game to seal victory in under a couple of hours.
Last year's Wimbledon semi-finalist and sixth seed Angelique Kerber crashed out of the tournament after suffering a 6-4 6-0 defeat to Sorana Cirstea. Kerber was uncharacteristically wobbly on her serve, and that allowed Romania's Cirstea to claim five breaks. Cirstea will now take on former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic as the Serb overcame Nadia Petrova 7-6(7) 6-4 in a tough encounter.
Sara Errani was late on court, but she did not waste any time as she claimed a 6-1 6-0 win over Simona Halep, while Ana Ivanovic was too good for Svetlana Kuznetsova.