sports tennis sharapova stuttgartopen 4 26 2013 98540 l - Sharapova toils on way to Stuttgart quarters

STUTTGART: French Open champion Maria Sharapova admitted she had dug deep to reach the quarter-finals of Stuttgart's WTA tournament after her three-hour marathon victory over clay court specialist Lucie Safarova on Thursday.

Sharapova, who won last year's Stuttgart title en route to her Roland Garros victory, needed three hours, nine minutes to squeeze past her Czech opponent for a 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3 second-round victory.

With a 5-2 lead in the third set and serving for the match, Sharapova squandered three match points as Safarova broke her, before the Russian returned the compliment to claim the match. (AFP)