Australian Open 2014: Maria Sharapova battles past Karin Knapp

Australian Open 2014: Maria Sharapova battles past Karin Knapp to reach the third round in Melbourne

Australian Open 2014: Maria Sharapova battles past Karin Knapp

Maria Sharapova was made to work hard for her place in the third round of the Australian Open after battling to a 6-3 4-6 10-8 victory Karin Knapp in Melbourne.

The 26-year-old Russian wasted three match points in the final set before eventually triumphing over her Italian opponent in three hours and 28 minutes.

There is no way of getting around the fact that the conditions were extremely difficult

Maria Sharapova

Temperatures peaked at 43C during the gruelling encounter and Sharapova, who will face No25 seed Alize Cornet in the third round, was relieved to make it through.

“It was tough for both of us,” said Sharapova. “We fought as hard as we could. Quite honestly, she played some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen her play.

“I think you just get numb to [the heat], it just doesn’t faze you any more. I’m happy – these are the matches that you work for.

“There is no way of getting around the fact that the conditions were extremely difficult, and have been for the last few days. No-one actually knows what that number is in comparison to humidity or the actual heat.

“I asked the trainer the other day what it takes for the roof to be closed or matches to be stopped, and she said ‘we have no control over this’.”

Elsewhere, former world No1 Caroline Wozniacki also survived a three-set encounter to reach the third round as she battled to a 6-0 1-6 6-2 win over American Christina McHale.

“I started off really well, I was very aggressive in the first set and she stepped it up a little bit [in the second set],” Wozniacki said.

“In the third set I just tried to fight for every point. I think my fighting spirit today pulled me through.”

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka, meanwhile, cruised through to the third round thanks to a routine 6-1 6-4 win over Czech Republic’s Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

“I feel pretty good. I think it was a good match today,” said Azarenka.

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