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Digging Deep

If there's one thing you know, it's that Maria Sharapova will die trying!
If there's one thing you know, it's that Maria Sharapova will die trying!
Kenny Evans, Sony Open Tennis

If there's one thing you know, it's that Maria Sharapova will fight to the bitter end! Sharapova, last years finalist and the WTA's glamour girl, came into the Sony Open not playing her hottest brand of tennis; she lost early in Australia and Indian Wells, and had a shocking loss in the semis of the Paris indoors as well but all that means nothing because whether she's playing well or playing terribly, she's going to fight til the death in order to win.

In her second round match, Sharapova played a young Japanese player who, although didn't win a set, made her work hard for the win; there were longs games, long rallies, plenty of drama. Sharapova was playing against the left-handed Czech Lucie Safarova first on stadium for the night session, and it was a battle that shouldn't have been missed.

Throughout the first set, Sharapova played well; she hit lines with her serve and she laced forehands and backhand to keep her Czech opponent at bay. Sharapova controlled the baseline and put constant pressure on Safarova until she eventually succumbed and Sharapova bolted ahead by winning the first set 6-4.

Safarova would turns things around and start using her own power and aggressive game to bully her Russian counterpart around. With Safarova bossing the points, it becamse increasingly tough for Sharapova to hold her own, especially being that she's not the best natural athlete, but as usual she hung in there and fought, only to lose the second set in a tiebreak; Safarova had leveled the match.

The momemtum was firmly on Safarova's side coming off that brilliant tiebreak she won, but even with the momemtum, Sharapova didn't give up. Sharpova continued battling; blasting returns, rocketing swing volleys, and pummeling groundstrokes until she found herself up a double break and serving for the match at 5-2. There were times where she didn't look confident, and she's agree with that, but no matter what she pressed on and rode her dogged grit into the fourth round. It was nice to see after Sharapova finally closed that long gritty match out that the exchange between the players was quite good (Safarova giving Sharapova a hug at the net instead of a traditional handshake).

"After a match like that, it's tough to have only one winner," Sharapova said, "because both players give a lot and both want to win so much." It was quite an affair between these two, and even though Sharapova didn't play her best, she would be pleased with this win because everyone knows how well and how dangerous Safarova can be. On to the next the Russian beauty goes.

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