Maria Sharapova needed nine match points before she finally closed out a win in the third round of the Miami Open, beating Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-2.

Sharapova had two match points in the tiebreaker, and seven more in the final game.

After a match like that, it's tough to have only one winner, because both players give a lot and both want to win so much.

Maria Sharapova, World number five

The number 26 seed Safarova stayed alive with a succession of vital winners.

With the capacity crowd in a frenzy, a long exchange on the final point ended with Safarova pushing a weary forehand into the net.

The match took three hours and ended at 10pm to conclude an 11-hour day session on the stadium court, with two night-session matches still having to be played.

"After a match like that, it's tough to have only one winner, because both players give a lot and both want to win so much," Sharapova said.

Serena wins marathon

Top seed Serena Williams won a marathon, too, taking two-and-a-half hours to eliminate Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

A succession of long rallies left Williams grunting, stumbling, lunging, squealing, flailing her arms and scolding herself in another thrilling match.

Despite all the drama and trauma, she moved one round closer to a record seventh Key Biscayne title.

Williams is playing in her first tournament after a month long layoff, and rustiness might explain her 41 unforced errors, including seven double-faults.

Nadal too good

Men's world number one Rafael Nadal began a bid for his first Key Biscayne title by beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-3.

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the fourth round without playing when his next scheduled opponent, Florian Mayer, withdrew because of a groin injury.

Stanislas Wawrinka bounced back from his first loss of the year by beating Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.

Seventh seed Tomas Berdych joined Wawrinka in the third round by beating Stephane Robert 7-6 (5), 6-1.

John Isner rallied to win an all-American matchup against Donald Young, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4.

That left Isner as the lone remaining American in the men's draw, reflecting the state of U.S. tennis.

Murray rallies late

Defending champion Andy Murray came from a set down to beat Australian Matthew Ebden and earn a place in round three.

In his first match since splitting with coach Ivan Lendl, the British number one went 3-0 down and lost the first set, but rallied to win 3-6 6-0 6-1.

Murray has won the Miami Masters event twice, in 2009 and 2012, but following back surgery last September he has slipped to six in the rankings.

The Brit could fall further if he fails to defend the 1,000 points he gained from winning the title last year.


Source: AP