Indian Wells: Former champion Maria Sharapova survived a tough battle with Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro on Sunday, winning 7-5 6-3 to book her place in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. The Russian world number three, seeded second at the elite WTA event, broke the Spaniard twice in a closely contested first set that featured several lengthy baseline rallies and lasted almost an hour.
Sharapova then broke the Spaniard's serve twice more in the second set, sealing victory in one hour 40 minutes when her 21st-ranked opponent hit a forehand long. "I faced a pretty tough opponent," Sharapova said courtside on a sunny afternoon at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. "I certainly had some trouble today."
The statuesque Russian, champion here in 2006, will next face either Italy's Roberta Vinci or Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino. Earlier on Sunday, sixth-seeded Italian Sara Errani had to work a little harder than the scoreline reflected as she beat Sweden's Johanna Larsson 6-3 6-1 in the third round. Errani, who clinched the seventh WTA title of her career in Acapulco last month, broke her opponent's serve twice in the opening set and three times in the second to win in one hour 21 minutes.
The 25-year-old Italian, known for her doubles prowess, will next face either Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova or ninth seed Marion Bartoli of France, who were scheduled to play later on Sunday. "The score was 6-3 6-1 in the end, but for sure it wasn't that easy a match," Errani said after improving her win-loss record for the year to 20-7. "Many of the points were very long and she's a very strong player. It was a much tougher match than the score."
Errani, who reached her first grand slam singles final at last year's French Open, was delighted to become the first WTA player this season to post 20 match wins. "For sure I'm very happy about that," Errani said with a smile. "I like competition much better than practice, so I play a lot of tournaments and a lot of matches - I really enjoy it.
"For the moment I'm doing well. Right now I'm very happy to still be in this tournament and I hope to keep going." In other matches on Sunday, Czech Klara Zakopalova overcame Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova 6-4 7-5 and Russian Maria Kirilenko scraped past American qualifier Mallory Burdette 6-3 4-6 6-2. Later in the day, third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland meets Romania's Sorana Cirstea.