Serena Williams survived up-and-comer Caroline Garcia of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the Sony Open on Saturday.
Six-time Sony Open winner Williams is seeking to defend her crown and win a record–setting seven title.
The 20-year-old Garcia made Williams work – moving the 17-time major champ around the court and blasting serves which were clocked as fast as at 117 mph in the two-hour and 30 minute match.
“She plays well,” Williams said of Garcia. “I really gave myself a tremendous amount of trouble out there.”
“I think, granted she played great, but I made so many errors. I hit so short. It really isn’t the same player. I just have to do better.”
The world No. 1 committed 41 unforced errors during the match.
“It was a good match to play and it was good test for me because she’s good player and she’s always fighting a lot,” Garcia said.
Williams advances to the fourth round.
Maria Sharapova was pushed by Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-2 in an almost three hour contest. The No. 4 seed won the match on her ninth match point over a feisty opponent 56 minutes after her first match point which came in the second set tiebreaker.
Safarova saved 6 match points against Sharapova in the final game of the match with a series of winners.
At the end of the match, instead of a traditional handshake, the women hugged each other.
“She kept hitting unbelievable shots,” Sharapova said after the match. “One more. One more. I said, `How many chances are you going to get?’”
“I’m happy to be sitting here winning the match,” the Russian said in press. “Obviously it was tough to lose that second set after having a couple of match points, but I was really happy with the way I came out.”
The day was not without upsets as No. 9 seed Sara Errani fell to Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
Kirsten Flipkens moved into the next round when No. 14 seed Sabine Lisicki withdrew from the tournament due to the flu.
Other seeds advancing on the day were No. 5 Angelique Kerber who beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0, 6-2, No. 12 seed Ana Ivanovic who topped Indian Wells winner No. 20 seed Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3, No. 8 Petra Kvitova who beat teenqualifier Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4.