Tough workout for Serena

  • Last Updated: March 23 2014, 8:09 GMT

Defending champion Serena Williams survived an epic battle at the Sony Open on Saturday.

Serena Williams: Needed three sets to see off Garcia
Serena Williams: Needed three sets to see off Garcia

The top seed eventually edged past France's Caroline Garcia in three sets in a match lasting more than two and a half hours.

Williams took the opening set 6-4 but lost the second by the same score, gifting her opponent two set points with a sixth double fault of the contest.

An early break of serve in the decider looked to have eased Williams' passage to the next round, but Garcia saved five further break points before Williams eventually sealed a hard-fought 6-4 4-6 6-4 win.

Williams will play Coco Vandeweghe, who upset 16th seed Sam Stosur 5-7 7-5 7-5 in a match which finished at almost 0230 local time.

Fourth seed Maria Sharapova was also taken to three sets after losing a second-set tie-break, but eventually progressed 6-4 6-7 (7/9) 6-2 after opponent Lucie Safarova had saved six match points to add to two in the previous set.

The Russian said afterwards: "It was one of those days. I had chances but she kept hitting incredible shots, like winners on match point."

Kirsten Flipkens was granted a direct pass through to face Sharapova after opponent Sabine Lisicki dropped out without taking to the court.

Ana Ivanovic and Petra Kvitova will meet in the same quarter of the draw. Ivanovic beat the in-form Flavia Pennetta 6-4 6-3 while Kvitova reversed that scoreline in beating 17-year-old Croatian Donna Vekic.

Fifth seed Angelique Kerber thrashed Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0 6-2 and will face Ekaterina Makarova, a 6-3 2-6 6-4 winner over Sara Errani.

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