Sharapova fights off Bencic challenge

Maria Sharapova recorded a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Belinda Bencic in the fourth round of the Australian Open in one of the most hard-fought straight sets victory you will ever see.%u200B

There were no easy games on Rod Laver Arena as the pair slogged it out in fine fashion before Sharapova triumphed in two hours and five minutes.

Bencic twice went ahead in the opening set, but on each occasion Sharapova broke right back. Bencic fought off set points in the 10th game, but she couldn’t do so in the 12th, with Sharapova taking the set 7-5.

The fifth seed converted just three of 23 break points in the set, while Bencic converted the only two that came her way.

Having seen four breaks of serve in the first set, one may have expected the same pattern in the second, but it was far from it – although neither player had it easy.

It was to the great credit of the pair that each game was a tense affair, every point was worked hard for. In women’s tennis where there are so often one-sided results, this was a battle of the highest quality.

It was in the 12th game that the pressure finally told on Bencic, with Sharapova capitalising on her second match point. But not before some more drama. Sharapova’s winner was initially called out, but on review it was found that the ball had clipped the line. Bencic looked on in disbelief while Sharapova let out a shrill of delight.

It was the Sharapova serve that proved the difference, with the 28-year-old slamming down 21 aces and winning 83 percent of points on her own serve.

Speaking after the match Sharapova noted that Bencic will be part of the generation that eventually replaces her, but she’s not quite ready to hand over the mantle. In fact, it’s going to take some effort to prise it away from her.

Sharapova will play the winner of the clash between Serena Williams and Margarita Gasparyan.

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