Maria Sharapova didn’t have a perfect day of tennis but got through to the quarterfinals of the BNL Internazionali d’Italia Thursday evening. The former number one held back a surge from Daria Gavrilova in the second set to keep things straight for the first time this tournament to win 6-3, 6-4 at Next Gen Arena i Foro Italico.
The Australian completed quite an ordeal of a match that ended early Thursday morning giving her very little time to rest for her third match against Sharapova. They met in the semis three years ago just before the Russian went on to win the title.
With her hopes of getting back there, the 31-year-old played consecutive days going the distance in each of her wins. While she hadn’t played a full match against Gavrilova, the former number one had to keep her own game together while attacking the very fatigued 24-year-old.
Sharapova nearly had the break on deuce but the Australian didn’t want to fall into any holes early on. They went to deuce span a couple of breaks before she managed to hold her opponent back.
When the serve switched over, she swept the game creating a point’s streak in the third game that spanned seven points. Though it came to an end, the Russian showed focus to take a 2-1 lead.
The next two went by quickly handing Sharapova a 4-1 rout that led to the 24-year-old calling coach out Jarryd Maher who suggest she adjust to counter the serve of her opponent.
She went deep in the sixth game forcing deuce with Sharapova on serve that spanned eight breaks and 14 minutes. In the end, the former number one secured her fifth win of the set with one left to attain.
Frustrated with her struggles of finding a rhythm, Gavrilova awarded Sharapova set point chances but erased them going to deuce. She battled through three breaks before bringing together a combination of winners to hold on.
The comeback she had yesterday against Muguruza was coming together again as she put another win in the eighth. It all came to fall in her hands giving Sharapova three set points before capturing it on the second chance.
The set finished in 50 minutes with Sharapova showing her poise winning 68 percent from the first serve with 22 winners. The work to get to the goal was not close to being easy as Gavrilova had answers going forward.
The Aussie took the opening pair of games that nearly had Sharapova wondering if this was the start to another three-setter. She struck back winning three straight putting a lot of energy in doing so. The streak continued in the sixth with Sharapova breaking Gavrilova that saw the end closing in.
Gavrilova refused to go down and got a win on the break that put her a game back. Sharapova captured the double but had trouble putting the match to bed with the Aussie relentless to give in.
It was 5-4 for the Russian who faced her first match point on Gavrilova’s serve blowing it on an error. She scored a winner nailing the line bringing together a second chance which also went into the net.
A third consecutive error handed the Aussie game point but a ball on the line brought things back to deuce for the third time. It came on a focused rally that Gavrilova couldn’t hold throwing her racket across the court in anger. It was her 19th error of the match to closed her tournament run after 1 hour and 38 minutes.
Sharapova had 38 winners as she prevented the third set from being played. With the easiest of wins in some time, the Russian would rest up for her match against world number five Jelena Ostapenko on Friday.Published 18 May 2018, 01:24 IST