US Open: Maria Sharapova overcomes struggles to win in straight sets
Maria Sharapova got over some tough moments in the US Open early Friday morning. The former number one fought deep with Sorana Cirstea to get the 6-2, 7-5 straight sets win on Arthur Ashe Stadium making it her 21st straight playing at night on the court. While she got the result, it was a night full of issues with the shot clock, too many double faults and her opponent running out of challenges.
The two met for the first time in six years where Sharapova handled the Romanian easily in Beijing. With a step up on her on the hard courts, the Russian hoped to have a better outcome than she did two night ago where she struggled in the second set against an old rival from her past before getting the edge needed to win.
With her not wanting the same thing to occur, the 2006 winner looked to give herself a comfortable hold on the big stage which she has been so comfortable with.
She didn’t show any of that in the first game committing two double faults on serve. It led Cirstea to push the envelope on deuce where they reached beyond the ten-minute mark. After five breaks, Sharapova got the win but knew that she had to get in speed faster. She made up for lost time and took the second game swiftly from the Romanian.
After a tough service from Cirstea, Sharapova followed up worse in the third committing her sixth double fault and fourth of the game. Despite the massive problem, Sharapova was good in the rally but as she served again, she won a winner on the backhand. After one more break, they finished the game with Sharapova up 3-0 after an 11-minute battle.
Cirstea held in the fourth that led them to a small hold of serve but the Russian was still holding her three-game buffer. By the time she had the seventh, she pushed the Romanian out of the way to capture a 6-2 victory and get the set in the books after 50 minutes played. Sharapova had eight in the set overall but got the first serve running after the early moments. It took away from Cirstea who didn’t bring the same energy to her offense.
When the second commenced, she watched Cirstea capture the break and hold together in the second making for an interesting game changer. Sharapova made her way into the set with a hold in the third which soon led to the pair holding serve through the next four in which Cirstea led the way.
Sharapova became frustrated with the calls made on her service game and exchanged some words with the umpire about it. When she returned to the baseline, the 31-year-old levelled the score but again sat a game down with the Romanian breaking the Russian in the ninth.
A huge push for control game to Sharapova in the 11th where she was intent on bringing the match to a close. The hold for her put Cirstea under pressure to keep it going and force a tiebreak. A double-fault gave her three match points where she clinched the third round with the Romanian smashing a return into the net ending 1 hour and 50 minutes.
“It’s a nice accomplishment but I still have many more matches in this tournament so that’s the way that I like to focus on things,” she said to ESPN’s Pam Shriver. “You gotta be a little crazy to be playing here past midnight”
She’ll get ready for another match against Jelena Ostapenko where they went deep in a match at Rome. “It only gets tougher from here,” she said. “Being seeded in the twenties you know you’re gonna get tough draws and play grand slam champions but I look forward to that one.”