Maria Sharapova overcame a mid-match wobble to secure a 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-0 win over Lauren Davis in the third round of the Australian Open.
The fifth seed looked set for a comfortable run under the roof at Rod Laver Arena as she steamed through the opening set in just 26 minutes, but Davis fought back to edge the second set before Sharapova put down the pedal in the third to secure the victory.
In a battle of one of the tallest players on tour in the form of the 6ft 2in Sharapova against one of the shortest in the 5ft 2in Davis, it was the Russian who took the early initiative, picking up a break in the fourth game before breaking Davis for a second time to take the set 6-1.
However, Sharapova’s unforced error count began to skyrocket in the second set, and this allowed Davis back into the contest. Having made just four unforced errors in the opener, the fifth seed coughed up 33 in the second.
Five double faults didn’t help her cause either, and it was two double faults in the sixth game that allowed Davis to break and take a 4-2 lead. Sharapova broke right back though, and a tiebreaker was required to separate the pair.
Davis looked calm and collected in the breaker and didn’t let the pressure get to her even after missing a straightforward volley in a cracking 27-shot 10th point. It was fittingly on a Sharapova error that the tiebreaker was decided, with the Russian pushing a forehand wide to see Davis take it 7-5 to level up the match.
It appeared the tide may be turning against Sharapova, but the 28-year-old had other ideas.
Having emerged on court after a change of dress, Sharapova was clinical from the outset of the decider. After holding her serve to love, she proceeded to break Davis three times in succession to race through the set 6-0 in just 31 minutes, and with it the match was hers.
Sharapova will face 12th seed Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.
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