Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Former titlist Maria Sharapova was pushed to the limit during Thursday's second round, but the third-seeded Russian held on for the victory in the longest women's match so far at the Australian Open.
In a match that lasted 3 hours, 28 minutes, Italian Karin Knapp had Sharapova on the ropes, holding an 8-7 lead in the third set on another steamy day at Rod Laver Arena.
While matches were being suspended around them with the temperature reaching 107 degrees, Sharapova and Knapp marched on in their marathon contest, but the experience of Sharapova showed through down the stretch.
After holding serve to tie the tilt at 8-all, Sharapova broke Knapp to go on top before the two-time Aussie runner-up closed out the contest on her serve and claimed a 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 triumph to secure a spot in the third round.
Next up for Sharapova will be 25th-seeded Alize Cornet of France after she earned a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 decision over Italy's Camila Giorgi.
Eleventh-seeded Romanian Simona Halep bounced back from a slow start against American Varvara Lepchenko to claim a 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 win, setting up a third- round matchup with Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas, who downed New Zealand's Marina Erakovic by a 6-4, 6-0 margin.
Carla Suarez Navarro needed a late rally to fend off Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan, as the 16th-seeded Spaniard secured her place in the next round with a 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 8-6 victory.
Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, the 20th seed, awaits Suarez Navarro in the next round after cruising to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele.
Also on Thursday, 29th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova moved past Luxembourg's Mandy Minella with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph, Ukraine's Elina Svitolina notched a 6-4, 7-5 win over Aussie Olivia Rogowska and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza straight-setted Slovak Anna Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-3.
With the excessive heat expected to continue throughout the day, matches on all outdoor courts were suspended until the temperature drops, leaving just Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena as available surfaces.