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Sharapova puts Petrova down

PARIS: Maria Sharapova struggled again in her Grand Slam tournament comeback at the French Open, needing three full sets and few extra games to finally reach the third round yesterday by beating 11th-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia 6-2, 1-6, 8-6.

Again playing with tape on her troublesome right shoulder, the unseeded Sharapova hung to join top-seeded Dinara Safina and defending champion Ana Ivanovic in the next round.

"Obviously I am spending a little bit more time out there than I want to, but I think I'm learning so many new things, as well," Sharapova said. "I think this was a great match where I had to fight my way through many, many challenges. And I did."

Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam champion who has slipped to No.102 in the rankings because of her injury layoff, won five straight games to close out the first set.

Trailing 4-2 in the deciding set, she broke Petrova to get back on serve at 4-4, and then saved two break points to take a 5-4 lead. She saved another break point while serving at 6-6. "I got off to a really good start," Sharapova said. "I kind of started stumbling away. Things went in the wrong direction. I was just glad I could pick myself up and keep fighting and do the right things, and end the match with a win."

Sharapova is making her first Grand Slam appearance in almost a year after missing both the US Open and the Australian Open because of her shoulder injury. She had surgery in October.

Safina easily beat 18-year-old Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko 6-1, 6-1, and Ivanovic defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 6-1, 6-2.

Safina took a 5-0 lead to open the match, stretching her streak to 17 straight games after winning 6-0, 6-0 in the first round.

The 153rd-ranked Diatchenko didn't have many break opportunities against Safina.

Ivanovic looked more comfortable on court after struggling in her opening match. The eighth-seeded Serb broke the 32-year-old Tanasugarn twice in the first set and three times in the second.

"I just want to sort of get my way through the rounds and just feel more comfortable match after match," Ivanovic said. "Today I think I served some aces, which gave me some confidence in my serve, and that's something I've been working on."

No 9 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus also made it through, while No 21 Alize Cornet of France reached the second round. No. 15 Zheng Jie of China lost.



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