Sharapova Gets Past Hantuchova & Into QFs

Maria Sharapova battled from 2-0 down in the third set to beat Daniela Hantuchova, 62 26 64.

Published July 27, 2011 12:00

Sharapova Gets Past Hantuchova & Into QFs
Maria Sharapova

STANFORD, CA, USA - Maria Sharapova didn't have an easy night but made a winning start to her Bank of the West Classic campaign nonetheless, losing seven games in a row mid-match to Daniela Hantuchova but staying strong in the third set to beat the in-form Slovak in a tough three-setter, 62 26 64.

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Sharapova, the No.2 seed, had beaten Hantuchova seven times in a row coming into this one but none of those were this close, as Hantuchova won seven straight games from 62 21 down to win the second set and go up 2-0 in the third. Sharapova's fighting spirit was just too strong in the end though, and she won six of the next eight games to end it. She won on her fourth match point.

Hantuchova is now a very respectable 3-5 against Top 5 players this year, her wins coming against Vera Zvonareva at Pattaya City, Caroline Wozniacki at the French Open and Li Na at Eastbourne. In four of those five losses she has won a set (only Wozniacki beat her in straight sets, over in Miami).

Next up for Sharapova is Serena Williams or Maria Kirilenko, who play their second round match on Thursday afternoon. Sharapova is 2-2 head-to-head against Kirilenko and 2-6 head-to-head against Williams.

The other three seeds who took the court all won too, with No.3 seed Marion Bartoli getting revenge for a loss last September by dispatching Rebecca Marino, 64 63; No.5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska rebounding from a scratchy middle set to get by Chang Kai-Chen, 64 36 60; and No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova also rebounding from a second set loss to beat the youngest player in the world's Top 100, 19-year-old Christina McHale, 64 26 63.

"I wasn't playing my best today and it's not easy to win matches like that," Cibulkova said. "From 2-3 in the third set I played more aggressively and was able to win. I was lucky to win, but to win when you're not playing well gives you even more confidence and can help when you go and play your next matches."

Although she herself is only 22 years old, Cibulkova felt her experience made a difference against McHale. "Her first serve was working well and she surprised me by hitting some slower balls too - she's a solid player," Cibulkova said. "I was also a young player coming up and I know what it takes. You have to play many matches and believe you can beat anyone. You just have to go for it."

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Bartoli has some good memories from this tournament - she reached the final in 2008 and won the title in 2009. "I love this tournament. It's a great place for me to start playing again," she said. "I felt great today. I lost to Rebecca last year in Québec, so it was good for me to take revenge today. I can still improve some parts of my game here and there, but overall I'm happy with the way I played."

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