Day 3 at the Australian Open saw no seeded upsets on the women’s side in seven contests featuring seeded players — but what would have been the largest upset of the tournament was avoided when No. 2 Maria Sharapova fought off two match points to defeat fellow Russian and No. 150-ranked qualifier Alexandra Panova 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.
Panova led 4-1 in the third set and served for the match at 5-4, where Sharapova erased both match points with forehands that held nothing back.
“I thought my thought process through the match to that point was pretty negative,” Sharapova said. “I think I was dwelling too much on my mistakes, what I was doing wrong, not really being in the present, something that I’m really usually good at…I just really tried to take it a point at a time, think positively, and change my thought process a little bit.”
The former No. 1 will need to clean up a groundstroke game that featured more than 50 unforced errors in her next round against No. 31 seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, who on Wednesday advanced in another marathon over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 3-6, 6-2, 8-6.
Other Top 10 seeds in action were No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard who rolled over Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-0, 6-3, and No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova who handled Italian veteran Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-4.
“I think I put pressure on her a lot,” said Bouchard after dropping only three games to the delight of the Genie Army. “I think I probably forced her to make some errors. I was happy with the way I was able to step in and control the points, whether I did the winner or she did the error. In the end I think that’s how I want to play.”
Bouchard will next meet French comer Caroline Garcia.
Also into the third round were No. 14 Sara Errani, No. 21 Peng Shuai, and No. 22 Karolina Pliskova who outlasted France’s Oceane Dodin 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
Un-touted German 19-year-old Carina Witthoeft rolled past an ailing American Christina Mchale 6-3, 6-0 into the third round, and American grinder Bethanie Mattek-Sands was a winner and will meet No. 3 Simona Halep if the Romanian comes through her second round against Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova (which started at 7:40 a.m. EST Wednesday).
There are a slew of matches to look for on Thursday in Oz in (1) Serena Williams vs. the Russian who has beaten her twice Vera Zvonareva, (20) Sam Stosur vs. Coco Vandeweghe, Lauren Davis vs. (18) Venus Williams in an all-American, Madison Keys vs. (29) Casey Dellacqua, former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka vs. (8) Caroline Wozniacki, (11) Dominika Cibulkova vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, (4) Petra Kvitova vs. German comer Mona Barthel, (24) Garbine Muguruza vs. the veteran Daniela Hantuchova, and an all-American “C”-squad battle with Irina Falconi vs. Madison Brengle.
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