New world number one Maria Sharapova was made to battle all the way before reaching the Rome International quarter-finals with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki on Thursday.
Despite being kept on court by a stubborn Dominika Cibulkova for almost three hours until late on Wednesday, the Russian still came out with all her fighting spirit under the sun in the Italy capital.
She edged a combative first set and then needed to dig deep to come back from 5-1 and two breaks of serve down in the second to win five straight games. However, when needing to serve for the match and despite leading 30-15, mistakes crept into her game and she handed the Dane a break with a double fault. But she knuckled down to see out the tie-break, sealing it with a forehand winner down the line. “Taking away what she was doing on her side of the net, from my point of view I thought there were just a lot of rollercoaster rides,” said the second seed.
“I'd put two or three good points together and then the level sort of dropped, but that's all right. “The good thing is I got a win and can play another match tomorrow.” Sharapova next plays against Swiss Patty Schnyder.
It was the second piece of good news for Sharapova on the day as it was also confirmed that she would be the new world number one following Justine Henin's retirement.