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Serena, Sharapova survive marathons in Madrid Open

Madrid: Top seed Serena Williams and defending champion Maria Sharapova survived marathon three-setters to reach the Madrid Open quarter-finals yesterday.

Maria Sharapova celebrates her victory over  Caroline Garcia  at the Caja Magica Sports Complex yesterday. Pic/AFP
Maria Sharapova celebrates her victory over Caroline Garcia at the Caja Magica Sports Complex yesterday. Pic/AFP 

Williams saved three match points and needed two and three-quarter hours to take her undefeated record this season to 23-0, making the most of a late serving collapse from former No 1 Victoria Azarenka.

"I could have won, she could have won. I ended up winning and I don't know how," said Williams after her 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (7-1) win. "I feel like it was intense. I don't feel like there were a lot of long points, which was weird."

Williams next faces either Ana Ivanovic, the Serbian seventh seed, or Spanish 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.

Third seed Sharapova went for two and a half hours before seeing off Caroline Garcia 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Sharapova ended the dramatic third-round match with a second-serve ace confirmed from the chair after breaking for 6-5.

Against Sharapova, the 28th-ranked Garcia, clearly peeved to have missed her chance against the five-time Grand Slam winner, gave an abbreviated "drive-by" handshake as the players met for a few quick seconds at the net, following protocol in name only. "In the third it just came down to a few points, she was the much more aggressive player in the third set; she was going for a lot," said Sharapova.

"Conditions also play a big role, you have a bit of altitude here. The ball bounces quite high. Consistency is really important against an opponent that's so aggressive and going for the lines so much."

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