Sharapova has to fight for win

TOKYO - Maria Sharapova began her campaign to reclaim the Pan Pacific Open title yesterday with victory over Francesca Schiavone of Italy in Tokyo, Japan.

TOKYO - Maria Sharapova began her campaign to reclaim the Pan Pacific Open title yesterday with victory over Francesca Schiavone of Italy in Tokyo, Japan.

But the three-time Grand Slam champion was forced to come from a set down to eventually take the match 4-67-56-1 after two hours and 22 minutes at the Ariake Colosseum.

"I thought I did a good job of hanging in there because she was playing at a high level, some of the best tennis she has played against me in all of our match-ups before," said Sharapova, the winner in 2005.

"It was really important to stay patient. I did a good job fighting back."

Sharapova, 22, today faces Samantha Stosur of Australia, who downed American qualifier Alexa Glatch 7-56-0.

Sharapova said she looked forward to the off-season to sharpen her fitness and skills.

"Fingers crossed, I am going to be able to put a lot of work in on the court, spend a couple of months really working on my game, getting ready for the next year," she said. - Sapa-AFP

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