Ace Sharapova holds off late charge

Top seed Maria Sharapova held off a late Vera Zvonareva fightback to book a place in the Australian Open quarterfinals with a 7-5 6-4 victory.

Top seed Maria Sharapova held off a late Vera Zvonareva fightback to book a place in the Australian Open quarterfinals with a 7-5 6-4 victory.

Zvonareva fought every step of the way to 5-all in the opener but cracked under the pressure as Sharapova converted a break point for a 6-5 lead.

Sharapova clinched the first set with a fine forehand, leaving a furious Zvonareva hitting herself with the racket in anger.

Sharapova grabbed a 5-2 lead in the second as she took firm control. Zvonareva recovered to trail 5-4 in the second before Sharapova sealed the win.

The match had been ambling towards an uneventful conclusion before Zvonareva displayed some real fighting spirit late on.

Zvonareva had run herself to a standstill as she battled to stay in touch with Sharapova's trademark powerful strokes in the first set.

Her hard-working approach appeared to be paying dividends as she staved off five break points from a clearly frustrated Sharapova to take a 5-4 lead in the first set.

But the set slipped out of Zvonareva's control as Sharapova finally converted a break point - her first from 10 opportunities - for a 6-5 advantage.

"I thought I played a lot better than I did in my previous rounds but I'll definitely have to step it up," said Sharapova. - BBC

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