Three-time champion Maria Sharapova survived another tight opening set at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix to defeat fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, 7-5, 6-1, and reach her fourth quarterfinal in five appearances in Stuttgart.
Sharapova Snatches 47-Minute Opener
With both women refusing to give an inch on serve, the compatriots traded holds for the first ten games before Makarova was finally able to engineer the first break point, but alas, she failed to take it as a wild backhand cost her the slight advantage, and eventually the set. Taking full advantage when it mattered most, Sharapova took advantage of her unexpected lifeline to hold and break within a matter of minutes to move one set closer to a spot in the last eight.
Sharapova Sails Into Final Eight
Remaining on the offensive, Sharapova continued to ride her wave of momentum into the second set, breaking at love in the fourth game with a stunning drop shot to remember to move a set and 3-1 clear. Despite some anticipated resistance from Makarova, it was the three-time champion’s serve that came to her rescue once more, allowing her to consolidate the early advantage before breaking for a second time to take a commanding set and 5-1 lead. With Makarova’s spirit now all but broken, Sharapova sealed the win in style, doing so on her first match point with her ninth ace of the contest.
“Today, I felt that we both served quite well to begin the match and there were not many break opportunities for either of us,” assessed the former world number one. “Once the score gets closer and it’s 5-4 and 5-all and you have those, I believe she even had a break point at the end of the first set, but I think that is when you have to tap into instinct.”
“It’s great to have free points but clay doesn’t always allow for that so much. It’s great to get easy points and free points, but I don’t know – if you hit a winner, that’s wonderful but when you’re able to open up the court and then maybe she misses the ball, that doesn’t show on statistics. So, it’s always a very thin line. I don’t know if aces and faults always show the true colors of how you perform.”
Stats Corner: Sharapova Improves to 7-0 Against Makarova
In a contest that lasted just over an hour and 20 minutes, Sharapova was impressive in all areas, particularly on serve: she saved the only break point she faced, won 85 percent of the points behind her first serve and hit nine aces, including one on match point, as aforementioned. In addition, she was also particularly impressive off the ground, maintaining a healthy 29-19 winner-to-unforced-error ratio, while Makarova didn’t reach double digits in either category (9-8).
Next Up for Sharapova: Kontaveit
Standing in Sharapova’s way of reaching yet another semifinal at the Porsche Arena is big-hitting Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who is fresh off earning her first top-10 victory on Wednesday over reigning French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round.