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Tennis - 25. March 2011.

Sharapova back on form at the Sony Ericsson Open

Fans have waited four years to see Maria Sharapova take the court in Miami. After missing the previous three Sony Ericsson Opens with various injuries, she opened night session play on stadium court with a commanding performance against Croatian Petra Martic, winning their second round match 6-3, 6-2.

Sharapova bursted out of the gates to start the match, winning eight of nine points to create a 2-0 lead. That would be all she needed as she closed out the first set with ease.

The former two-time Sony Ericsson Open finalist continued to press Martic, building a quick 3-0 lead. Martic got on the board, breaking Sharapova for the only time to make it 3-1. The Russian however, kept plugging away, hitting a crushing backhand winner to move ahead 4-1. Like the conclusion of the opening set, it was routine at the end and she finished off the Croatian in one hour and seven minutes.
Sharapova’s third round opponent is German Sabine Lisicki, who led 18th seeded Nadia Petrova 4-6, 6-3, 3-1 before the Russian retired with a case of vertigo.

Coming off a semi-final appearance at Indian Wells, Sharapova is looking to build on that result here. “My goal this year is to consistently stay healthy. Let week I got to the semi-finals… I was really happy because I hadn’t played a tournament in a while.

Her last match in Miami prior to this one was a fourth round loss against Serena Williams in 2007. Sharapova was excited to be back at one of the WTA’s premier events. “This is one of my favorite events. I’m just so happy to get back on that court today and I love playing in front of the crowd,” exclaimed Sharapova. “They’re so enthusiastic. They love their sports and have that Latin flavor about them.”

Sweden’s Johanna Larsson won her first career match against a Top 10 player, outlasting seventh seeded Li Na 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-7. The Chinese star blew three match points at 5-4 in the final set, and relinquished a 4-0 lead in the deciding tie-break. Larsson will play No. 26 seed Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania in the third round.

Na’s compatriot Shuai Peng impressed again, upsetting No. 20 seed Aravane Rezai 6-0, 6-4 in a late day session match. The win gave Peng her 20th main draw win of the season. In the third round, she faces 11th seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2006 champion.
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