Australian Open 2014: Maria Sharapova battles through three-and-a-half hour epic to beat Karin Knapp in second round

Temperatures reached 42.4C during the draining match which Sharapova eventually came through 6-3 4-6 10-8

Third seed Maria Sharapova survived a desperate struggle against Karin Knapp as the Australian Open continued to boil.

The pair were on court for three hours and 28 minutes in temperatures that reached 42.4C before Sharapova finally came through 6-3 4-6 10-8 to book her place in the third round against France's Alize Cornet.

The temperature was already approaching 40C when the match began at 11am and the seats on Rod Laver Arena not in the shade were virtually empty.

Sharapova, who missed the end of last season with a shoulder problem, initially struggled with her serve and a series of double faults helped Knapp break to lead 2-1.

That was as good as it got for the 44th-ranked Italian in the first set, though, as Sharapova reeled off four games in a row to take control.

The Russian was wearing an ice vest at changes of ends to try to keep cool but she condemned herself to a third set with a sloppy service game at 4-5 to lose the second.

Both players headed off court for the 10-minute break between second and third sets allowed for women under the tournament's extreme heat policy.

Knapp returned to the court carrying two bags of ice and, although Sharapova broke serve in the first game, the third seed cast despairing looks towards new coach Sven Groeneveld when she was broken straight back.

The volume of the Sharapova shriek was going up and up, but she forged ahead again with another break to lead 2-1.

 

The 26-year-old is no stranger to long matches under the Melbourne sun, including an infamous tussle with Camille Pin in 2007, after which she said she had been delusional because of the conditions.

Fighting spirit has never been a deficiency for Sharapova, though, and, although Knapp levelled once more at 3-3, Sharapova went ahead again.

The Russian was less than impressed to be given a time violation for taking too long between points, and her day did not get any better.

She had three match points at 5-4 but Knapp saved all of them and then broke with the luckiest of net cords.

Although the extreme heat policy had now been fully implemented, the rule requires players to finish the set they are playing before play is suspended, meaning it was no help at all to Sharapova.

On and on they went, until finally the third seed broke to lead 9-8 having been two points from defeat a game earlier.

And, despite 12 double faults and 67 unforced errors in total, Sharapova clinched victory on her fourth match point when Knapp blasted a backhand long.

Referring to the Pin match, she said in her courtside interview: "I remember being really close to passing out but I'm feeling much better now, I think you just get numb to it.

"Recovery's going to be extremely important but these are the matches you work for and I'm happy to get through."

PA

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?