SONY ERICSSON OPEN
Maria Moves Into Quarters; Venus Beats Ana
by Peter Holehan|
In an All-Russian fourth round women’s match of the Sony Ericsson Open, No. 2 Maria Sharapova prevailed over unseeded Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 7-6 (3), to reach the quarterfinals in Miami for the fourth time in seven appearances.
Sharapova, a three-time runner-up at Miami (2005, 2006 and 2011), will next meet No. 8 seed Li Na of China.
Sharapova (16-3 in 2012) excelled in pressure situations by saving break point 11 of 15 times. She converted on five of eight break point opportunities.
“I felt like I was up a set and a break, and played a bit sloppy,” Sharapova said. “Combination of her stepping up, and being much more aggressive. She had opportunities; served for the second set. I just hung in there and stayed consistent. I played a much smarter tiebreaker, and I think that helped me extremely.”
Despite 11 double faults, Sharapova said she was not worried about her serve.
“Yeah, it's definitely not easy to play with that,” Sharapova said. “But I managed to win the match in two sets, so that's a plus. Definitely consistency will be really important in the next match and getting the percentage up, and also returning a little bit better, little things here and there.”
Sharapova now leads the all-time head-to-head series 4-0. The last time they met came during January’s Australian Open, which was Makarova’s first quarterfinals appearance in a Grand Slam. Sharapova won that match 6-2, 6-3.
Makarova, ranked No. 41, was attempting to become the first unseeded player in Miami to make it through to the quarterfinals since Justine Henin accomplished that in 2010. Henin went on to reach the semifinals.
In reaching the fourth round, Makarova equaled her best Miami performance (also 2009). During this year’s run, she defeated Jelena Dokic in the first round, topped No. 19 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second and then beat Mona Barthel in the third.
Despite the outcome, Makarova (11-4 this year) is projected by the WTA to climb inside the top 40 rankings. The last time the 23-year-old Moscow resident was ranked No. 40 was August of last year.
Na, the defending French Open champion, will be making her third trip to the quarterfinals in Miami having previously reached the round in 2007 and 2009.
Na and Lisicki played a comparably even match with exception to break point opportunities where Li converted on six of nine and Lisicki made good on just four of 10.
Na reached a milestone earlier in the tournament when she picked up her 400th career win with her second round victory against Melinda Czink.
For Lisicki, she was denied her first chance to play in the quarterfinals in Miami. In 2010, Lisicki retired against Yaroslav Shvedova in the second round here with a left ankle injury. She missed the next five months of tournament play and dropped as low as No. 218 in the rankings.
Since then, she’s playing arguably her best tennis of her career. She has won her second and third WTA singles titles and reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon last year.
Lisicki had beaten Li on two prior occasions when Li was ranked in the Top 10.
No. 5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland knocked out Spanish wild card Garbine Muguruza Blanco 6-3, 6-2. Radwanska lost just eight points on her serve.
The Pole will play Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, after the three-time Miami champion defeated 15th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2. Williams saved 11 of the 12 break points she faced to top the Serbian for the eighth time in nine career encounters.
"I felt like Ana played so well. I didn't feel like I had an opening in the first set," said Williams. "I was up a break, and let it go, but she played well. I thought hang in there, try and get some openings and capitalize. My serve kept getting better as the match went on, which is good news for me. I want to continue to up my serve throughout the whole tournament, so I was excited to get this win."
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