MADRID (AP) — Second-seeded Maria Sharapova beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-2, 7-5 Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open.
Sharapova used her big serve to take the first set with relative ease, but Lisicki put up stubborn resistance in the second.
Both players traded early breaks in the second set before Sharapova finally converted a fourth break point when Lisicki returned her well-placed slice into the net.
Sharapova didn't waste the opportunity to serve out the match, hitting an ace and forcing Lisicki into three errors in the final game to finish the third-round contest in 1 hour, 42 minutes.
"She is the kind of opponent that plays extremely well against the top players," said Sharapova, who lost to Lisicki last year at Wimbledon.
The Russian former No. 1 will face either Daniela Hantuchova or Kaia Kanepi next.
The Madrid Open is a key clay-court warm-up tournament for the French Open, where Sharapova will be trying to defend her title this month.
"(Last year) was an incredible memory for me and one that I will have the rest of my life," she said. "I'm still very hungry to win it. When I have that type of attitude I work harder to that goal. I find a lot of motivation at going back and trying to defend my title."
Also, Spain's Anabel Medina reached the quarterfinals after Yaroslava Shvedova withdrew due to a right arm injury.
Top-ranked Serena Williams plays Maria Kirilenko later, while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also have third-round matches in the men's event.