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Maria Sharapova was forced to dig deep to reach the third round of the Australian Open as temperatures soared once again in Melbourne

Sharapova battles past Knapp

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Originally published on 16/01/14

On court during the hottest part of the day as temperatures once again exceeded 40°C at Melbourne Park, play on the outside courts was suspended as the tournament’s extreme heat policy was imposed.

In only her sixth match since recovering from a shoulder injury, Sharapova’s fitness was tested to the limit by world No.44, as she battled to a 6-3 4-6 10-8 victory.

After squandering three match points at 5-4 in the deciding set, Sharapova finally got over the line when Knapp netted a backhand after three hours and 28 minutes.

“I’m really happy to get through,” Sharapova said. “I worked really hard in the last few months and wanted this match. I didn’t play my best tennis; I didn’t do many things well. I got through it, and sometimes that’s what’s important.”

Sharapova’s third round opponent will be Alize Cornet, a 6-3 4-6 6-4 winner against Italy’s Camila Giorgi.

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka remains on course for a semi-final showdown with 2008 winner Sharapova after she defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets. Under the roof on Rod Laver Arena, the world No.2 was broken twice in the second set but eventually wrapped up a 6-1 6-4 victory.

“There was a moment when I felt I dropped my intensity a little bit and was watching her a little bit too much,” Azarenka admitted. “She obviously played amazing defence today, but I’m glad I could turn it around in the end.”

Agniesszka Radwanska booked a third-round clash with Russia's Anastasia Pavyluchenkova. The No.5 seed beat Olga Govortsova 6-0 7-5, while Pavlyuchenkova dismissed Mandy Minella 6-2 6-2.

Under the roof on Rod Laver Arena, former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki needed three sets to see off American Christina McHale 6-0 1-6 6-2 and will play Spaniard Garbine Muguruza in Round 3.

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Maria Sharapova was forced to dig deep to reach the third round of the Australian Open as temperatures soared once again in Melbourne
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