- Madrid Open
Sharapova digs in to see off Lisicki
Maria Sharapova powered into the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open with a battling victory over Sabine Lisicki on Thursday, and she was later joined by Serena Williams.
Sharapova is building up towards the defence of her French Open crown and she has looked good in Madrid this week. She followed up her wins over Alexandra Dulgheru and Christina McHale by digging in to see off Lisicki 6-2 7-5.
The world No. 2 Sharapova asserted her authority with a break of serve in the opening game and a punishing backhand handed her a double break.
Lisicki steeled herself to break back but she was unable to hold her serve. A double fault coughed up two more break points and she threw a backhand way over the baseline.
For all her problems on serve, Lisicki was confident from the back of the court and she broke for a second time in the set, aided by a stunning drop shot that gave Sharapova no play.
The drop shot then put Lisicki on the back foot at the start of the seventh game as a mistimed effort was punished by Sharapova who promptly broke again and then held serve to close out the set.
Lisicki held for first time in match at start of the second, closing out the game with a crisp ace. The German put herself in the driving seat in the set when breaking the Sharapova serve for a 3-1 lead but she overdid the drop shot in the following game and Sharapova feasted on the short balls to break back.
Sharapova shook off a couple of break points to hold in the eighth game, sticking to her plan of serving to the Lisicki forehand, and saved set points in the 10th. Lisicki was made to rue not taking her chances as Sharapova took a marathon 11th game and closed out the match on her own serve.
Serena Williams was next on Manolo Santana to play Sharapova's compatriot Maria Kirilenko, currently ranked 12th in the world. The American had not looked entirely comfortable on clay this week, but she advanced impressively 6-3 6-1 to reach the last-eight.
The match stayed on serve for the first six games of the opening set, at which point Williams converted her first break chance to lead 4-3. Dropping only two of 18 points on serve in the set, she then comfortably saw things out with a further break to take control.
Kirilenko's serve began to fall apart and she fell 4-0 behind at the start of the second, representing four consecutive breaks for Williams. In the end, victory was wrapped up in 64 minutes.
Elsewhere, there were victories for Sara Errani, Ekaterina Makarova and Kaia Kanepi.