Maria Sharapova took hold of everything icy she could get her hands on in the scorching Melbourne heat and toiled past Italian Karin Knapp after three hours and 28 minutes 6-3 4-6 10-8 to advance to the third round of the Australian Open. Maybe Masha’s sponsor Nike could start branding ice vests?
An hour and a half into the match, Sharapova and Knapp were again even, 1-1 in sets. Then in the beginning of the decider it was Sharapova who led first, 3-1, and even had break points to extend the lead to a double break, but that didn’t happen and the memorable thriller hooked up when Knapp leveled to 3-3. Sharapova then took the lead again, 5-3, while at 5-4 she even had three match points, but Knapp saved them all and leveled yet again 5-5. Eventually Sharapova prevailed, but after serving for the match three times and being two points from defeat before breaking Knapp for a 9-8 lead.
The match was played at 41 Celsius/106 Fahrenheit, while the third set alone, lasting one hour and 55 minutes, was played in the hottest part of the day to that point. (photo via The Slice)