Maria Sharapova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in an all-Russian affair on Thursday in the third round of the Western & Southern Open.
WTA Staff

CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Maria Sharapova edged fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to set up a dream Western & Southern Open quarterfinal against Simona Halep.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Cincinnati right here on!

The Plot
Pavlyuchenkova came into this third round contest in good form, having defeated Dominika Cibulkova and Karin Knapp in straight sets in her previous matches this week.

After a first round bye, the fifth-seeded Sharapova was pushed to three sets by Madison Keys but was victorious.

The Turning Point
Sharapova jumped out to an early 4-1 lead before Pavlyuchenkova made a set of it, knotting it at 4-4. But Sharapova won eight of nine points from there to take the set.

The one-hour-and-15-minute second set featured three breaks by each player. It had to be settled in a tie-break, which Sharapova won comfortably for the 6-4, 7-6(2) triumph.

By The Numbers
Sharapova's first serve was key in this one, as she won 30 of 41 such points, including 15 of 19 in the first set.

That helped her improve to 3-1 against Pavlyuchenkova, with two of those wins having come in Cincinnati, where the 2010 runner-up and 2011 champion is now 12-2.

"I had a tough opponent, considering I lost to her in the beginning of the year," Sharapova said. "I was happy to get my revenge in Stuttgart, but I knew coming in that she's an aggressive player. I had to try to take that away from her. I'm happy that I was able to win the match in two sets."

What's Next
Sharapova, who ranks first on the Road To Singapore leaderboard, plays Simona Halep, who is in second place. Halep was a straight set winner over No.16 seed Lucie Safarova.

Sharapova has won all four of her previous match-ups with the second-seeded Halep, most recently a three set thriller in the French Open final.

"We have played on hard, but it was a long time ago," Sharapova said. "Our matches this year have been on clay courts, so this will be a pretty new encounter. We know each other's games very well because we played quite recently in the middle of the season. She's having one of her best seasons. Obviously being No.2 in the world is a really big achievement. It will be a tough match."