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Sharapova survives scare in Stuttgart

ESPN staff
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Maria Sharapova needed three hours and 24 minutes to win © Getty Images
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Defending champion Maria Sharapova survived a first-round scare at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart by defeating Lucie Safarova 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-6(2) on Tuesday.

Sharapova needed three hours and 24 minutes for her 100th clay victory, three days after her 27th birthday.

Sharapova, who is bidding to win the tournament for the third time in a row, next faces fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who defeated Latvian qualifier Diana Marcinkevica 6-3, 6-2.

"I think Lucie is an exceptional player," Sharapova said after the match. "She's presented me a lot of challenges when we've played in the past, and going into the match today I knew it wasn't going to be an easy one.

"I could have returned better. But I think this was one of the best serving matches she's played against me. She was finding the lines extremely well and mixing it up too, and it was hard to break her. But I'm really happy I was able to be the winner of this match. I was two points from losing."

Fifth seed Jelena Jankovic saved four match points to come back and claim a 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3 win over German lucky loser Mona Barthel.

Sara Errani recovered from a double break down in the second set to defeat Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic 6-3 6-4 for the Italian's first win in five visits to Stuttgart.

Two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Italian qualifier Gioia Barbieri 6-2 6-3 and another Russian, Alisa Kleybanova, defeated Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2 6-4.

Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 6-0 6-4, and Roberta Vinci had a 6-3 6-2 win over Annika Beck, ensuring the 20-year-old qualifier was the first German knocked out of the tournament.

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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