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Sharapova stays on track to maintain top 10 spot

ESPN staff
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Maria Sharapova did not have it all her own way in the second round © Getty Images
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Following a gruelling first-round win over Lucie Safarova lasting almost three and a half hours on Tuesday, Maria Sharapova breezed into the quarter-finals of the Porsche Grand Prix with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Sharapova needs to reach the semi-finals in Stuttgart to maintain her spot in the world top 10 - of which she hasn't been outside in more than three years - and the double defending champion needed just 92 minutes to see off compatriot Pavlyuchenkova, who won the last meeting between the pair in Paris earlier this year.

And Pavlyuchenkova looked like she might repeat that feat when she broke the opening game before holding to race into a 2-0 lead. But Sharapova recovered to win 10 of the next 13 games and build a 6-4 4-1 lead.

Pavlyuchenkova held then broke to get the second set back on serve, but sixth seed Sharapova broke straight back before serving out the match.

If Sharapova is to move into the last four, she will need to get past top seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who required just one hour and 18 minutes to get past Italian Roberta Vinci.

"We have played a few times so I knew what to expect and I knew what I had to do to beat her," Radwanska said. "I played really good tennis today. It was my first match here, which is always tricky. But I can't really complain about anything.

"Today was a pretty good match. I was playing very aggressively, not serving badly and moving okay on this surface. I think straight sets against someone who is playing very well on clay is a very good score. We'll see in the other matches, but of course, here there are no easy opponents.

"I played Fed Cup on clay, but Spanish clay is different than this, so it's just a different surface. But I got here on Monday and practiced a couple of times on this surface. It is a little bit faster and slippery, but everybody has the same conditions and you just have to get used to it."

Sharapova leads Radwanska 8-2 in their head-to-head series.

Flavia Pennetta has the second most wins on clay among active WTA players with 165, and she looked set to add to that when she cruised through the first set against Jelena Jankovic, but the fifth seed rallied to win 3-6 6-2 6-3 in a match that lasted almost two hours.

Ninth seed Ana Ivanovic also recovered from a set down and booked her spot in the last eight with a 1-6 6-2 6-3 over wildcard Julia Georges.

Later in the day, fourth seed Angelique Kerber was stunned by Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro. The World No.16 won 7-5 6-4 in one hour and 43 minutes.

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