sport

Sharapova struggles through

Defending champion Maria Sharapova came through three tie-breakers to edge out Lucie Safarova in a gruelling contest at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

The Russian sixth seed, who is bidding to win this tournament for the third successive year, emerged triumphant against her Czech opponent 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/2) after a first round battle which latest three hours and 23 minutes.

Compatriots Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alisa Kleybanova joined Sharapova in the second round.

Jelena Jankovic, the fifth seed, saved four match points and needed four of her own before finally seeing off Germany's Mona Barthel 2-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-3.

Eighth seed Sara Errani progressed at the expense of Klara Koukalova, winning 6-3 6-4.

And there were also wins for fellow Italian Roberta Vinci and Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.