Sharapova grits teeth to win
Maria Sharapova dug deep to all-but secure her place in the last four of the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
The under-par Russian had to come from behind to beat Agnieszka Radwanska 5-7 7-5 7-5 in three hours and 12 minutes at the Istanbul season finale.
Sharapova now tops the standings in the white group with two wins from two ahead of a final match against Sam Stosur on Friday, but Radwanska remains favourite to go through to the last four as runner-up, Sara Errani her final opponent.
"It was an example of not playing my best tennis at all, fighting through it, hanging in there, and getting it done," Sharapova said.
The victor seemingly struggled with a delay that saw the match start close to midnight, spraying groundstrokes beyond the court boundaries, and conceded the first set with a game that saw her land just one first serve in play.
That provoked a perfect response but the break she secured in the first game of the second set was rendered in vain by two double-faults and further errors gave Radwanska an ominous 4-2 lead.
An immediate break-back kept her in the hunt before further breaks were traded, Sharapova finally snatching the set against the odds after more poor serving threatened to see her advantage go to waste.
An unsurprisingly cagey decider followed, the Turkish crowd still transfixed as the clock struck 2am, but Sharapova secured the decisive break in the 11th game, Radwanska's obdurate defence finally deserting her.