Stuttgart - French Open champion Maria Sharapova admitted she had dug deep
to reach the quarter-finals of Stuttgart's WTA tournament after her three-hour
marathon victory over clay-court specialist Lucie Safarova on Thursday.
Sharapova, who won last year's Stuttgart title en route to her Roland Garros
victory, needed three hours, nine minutes to squeeze past her Czech opponent
for a 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3 second-round victory.
With a 5-2 lead in the third set and serving for the match, Sharapova
squandered three match points as Safarova broke her, before the Russian
returned the compliment to claim the match.
"I've had a few three-hour games in my career, so I knew I just had to
keep fighting until the end," said the statuesque Russian who faces former
world No 1 Ana Ivanovic in Friday's quarter-finals.
"That's when it's the time to get the game-plan going and calm down a
"Clay is one of her favourite surfaces and I knew this was going to be
a tough game, so I am glad to get through.
"The first match of the clay-court season is always tough, it's nothing
Sharapova's last eight opponent Ivanovic beat Russia's Nadia Petrova 6-4,
6-3 in her second round game, having dropped to 17th in the world rankings.
Earlier second-seed China's Li Na has admitted she has one eye on a brand
new sports car, the winner's prize here, as she prepares to face Petra Kvitova
in the quarter-finals.
Li, who reached January's Australian Open final, breezed through Thursday's
second-round match in 74 minutes to see off Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-1,
6-2 in straight sets in her first match of the clay-court season.
Kvitova made the last eight after beating Germany's Julia Goerges 2-6,
7-6(7/4), 6-2 in her second round match.
"I have a lot of room in my garage for a new car and it's a pretty nice
car," joked Li, with a brand-new Porsche parked at the side of the court,
ready for the winner of Sunday's final to drive away.
"It's always tough when you change surface, so I'm excited to win my
first match on clay for the season.
"Mirjana plays flat, so I had to prepare for that.
"I thought it would be a tough match because she has a lot of
"I was happy I could play more aggressive and had the right game plan
Third-seed Angelique Kerber, ranked sixth in the world, also had no problems
as she blasted past Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-4 to set up a
quarter-final clash with Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova.
Results from the fourth day of the WTA Stuttgart tournament on Thursday (x denotes seeding):Angelique Kerber (GER x3) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-0, 6-4
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) bt Carla Surez (ESP) 7-5, 6-4
Na Li (CHN x2) bt Mirjana Lucic (CRO) 6-1, 6-2
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) bt Nadia Petrova (RUS x8) 6-4, 6-3
Petra Kvitova (CZE x5) bt Julia Goerges (GER) 2-6, 7-6(7/4), 6-2
Maria Sharapova (RUS x1) bt Lucie Safarova (CZE) 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3