Sharapova fights off match points to beat qualifier

Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:32am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World number two Maria Sharapova credited just swinging away and not dwelling too much on her predicament to save two match points before sneaking into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old Russian had been in danger of becoming the most famous victim of qualifier Alexandra Panova's career before she banged out four booming forehand winners to stave off defeat at 5-4 down in the third set.

She then romped through her own service game to love with two aces before breaking to clinch a 6-1 4-6 7-5 victory over the 150th-ranked Panova that set up a clash against either Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas or Slovakia's Anna Schmiedlova.

"I was dwelling too much on my mistakes, what I was doing wrong, not really being in the present, something that I'm really usually good at," Sharapova told reporters.

"At that point when you're behind and you feel like you're making a lot of errors, you don't feel like you have a good rhythm, I just really tried to take it a point at a time, think positively and change my thought process.

"When other things aren't working, maybe the mental side of things will help you out.

"I think in the end maybe that's what did."

The second seed arrived at Melbourne Park in good form having won the Brisbane warmup event and carried her momentum forward with a comfortable first round victory over Petra Martic.   Continued...

Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to compatriot Alexandra Panova during their women's singles second round match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 21, 2015.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter