KEY BISCAYNE (AP) — Mired in a marathon game midway through the opening set, Maria Sharapova wore down her opponent with characteristic resolve and relentlessness, then won the last point without hitting a shot.
That put Sharapova ahead to stay, and she beat fellow Russian Elena Vesnina on a muggy, 85-degree afternoon at the Sony Open, 6-4, 6-2.
The No. 3-seeded Sharapova moved into the fourth round, eager to fill one of the few holes in her resume. While she completed a career Grand Slam last year, she has never won Key Biscayne, losing the finals in 2005, ’06, ’11 and ’12.
Her pivotal moment Sunday against Vesnina came at 3-all in the first set. The next game went to deuce seven times, with Sharapova repeatedly erasing a deficit, until Vesnina dumped a weary second serve into the net on break point.
All told, Sharapova benefited from eight double-faults by Vesnina, and erased eight of the nine break points she faced.
Two seeded women were eliminated — No. 6 Angelique Kerber and No. 11 Nadia Petrova. Kerber lost to No. 28 Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-0, while Petrova was ousted by No. 22 Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (7), 6-4.
Lucky loser Lauren Davis of the United States was beaten by No. 32 Alize Cornet, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
In men’s play, No. 3 David Ferrer defeated Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5 and next faces No. 13 Kei Nishikori, who beat Xavier Malisse 6-2, 7-5.
Ferrer improved to 6-0 against Fognini, including three victories this year, and reached the fourth round at Key Biscayne for the eighth time.
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