MIAMI: World No. 1 Serena Williams and Russian star Maria Sharapova each battled through three sets on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to advance into the fourth round at the ATP and WTA Miami Masters.
Defending champion Williams and last year’s runner-up Sharapova struggled mightily to survive, with five-time finalist Maria Sharapova requiring nine match point to book her win.
Sharapova beat Czech Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 in a battle, which took five minutes short of three hours to complete.
Sharapova let out a scream of relief when she finally went through as Safarova’s shot hit the net, Sharapova having missed two chances in the second set to wrap it up early.
“She was just hitting unbelievable shots on the match points,” said Sharapova. “I kept asking myself how many more chances I had.
“I’m just so happy to go through.”
Sharapova ended her marathon with nearly twice as many unforced errors, 51, as winners, 27, and double-faulted eight times.
Top seed Serena Williams waited out a 45-minute rain third-set interruption before dispatching France’s Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
World number one Rafael Nadal was set to play his opening match after a first-round bye later.
Serbian second seed and three-time Miami champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the fourth round when opponent Florian Mayer retired a day before their scheduled match with a groin injury. Djokovic will next play Tuesday.
Williams, 32, bidding for a record seventh title at her home tournament, now stands 63-7 at the venue and was far from pleased with her showing.
“Granted she played great, but I made so many errors, I hit so short,” said Williams. “It really isn’t the same player. I just have to do better.
“It’s important to stay positive. Obviously I wasn’t at my best. I had 40-something errors. It’s not the way to play professional tennis.”
Reigning Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka downed Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the men’s third round.