What hoped to be a smooth match against an unranked opponent began with Sharapova winning the first four games, making a move to be ahead to win the first set. Before she could go for five, Knapp marched back to win three straight but eventually lose the set 6-3.
The Italian came out strong in the second set as an hour passed from the start of the match with temperatures hitting 102 by mid-day. Knapp took the first three games showing that she had a better handle on the heat than her opponent who also stood in the bright Australian sun. By the end of the second set it was clear both ladies were being pummeled by the sun with Knapp successfully gaining the advantage. Sharapova made a total of 13 unforced errors in the second set as things began to look scary for an early exit.
After two hours into the third set, the temperature began to hold at a blistering 107 degrees with mandatory breaks between three games for the ladies to cool down with towels of ice or cooling vest. Sharapova showed signs of struggle as she again failed to gain the advantage on the point break, going 5-12 in the process. Despite the stats, the 26-year-old pulled out all the stops to remain close to Knapp as the third set would go into extra games. Both ladies traded off victories as both remained at an even 8-8 after nearly two hours of play in the decisive set.
It became a battle of endurance as Sharapova found what little energy was left in her body to break the tie to go 9-8 and clinch the match with yet another game. The match took a total of 3 hours and 28 minutes which surprisingly would hold as the longest game of the tournament so far. Her tenacity under the dry temperatures she is not used to seeing puts her in a third round matchup with
© Copyright 2007 by canyon-news.com