WTA Sony Open Tennis: Serena Williams pushed all the way by Caroline Garcia
Last Updated: 23/03/14 7:49am
Serena Williams: Through to the fourth round in Miami
Serena Williams came through a tough test to clinch a 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory over Caroline Garcia in the third round of the Sony Open Tennis.
Defending champion and top seed Williams is playing in her first tournament back after a month-long break and has spent her opening two matches in Miami shaking off some rust.
French prospect Garcia went toe-to-toe with the 17-time grand slam winner for over two and a half hours before finally giving in.
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Williams, who lives an hour's drive from the Crandon Park complex where the tournament is held, took the opening set 6-4 but lost the second by the same score, gifting her opponent two set points with a sixth double fault of the contest.
An early break of serve in the decider looked to have eased Williams' passage to the next round, but Garcia gamely saved five more break points before the world No 1 finally sealed the win.
"I really gave myself a tremendous amount of trouble out there," she said afterwards. "Granted she played great but I made so many errors. I hit so short. I just have to do better."
There were no such problems for Ana Ivanovic and Angelique Kerber, who enjoyed straight-sets wins over Flavia Pennetta and Tsvetana Pironkova respectively in the third round.
Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova eased past qualifier Donna Vekic 6-3 6-4 but ninth seed Sara Errani was eliminated after going down 6-3 2-6 6-4 to Ekaterina Makarova.
In the late match, Maria Sharapova was made to work hard by Lucie Safarova before finally recording a 6-4 6-7 (9/7) 6-2 victory.
The Russian needed no less than nine match points, the first two of which came and went in the tie-break that decided the second set. Eventually Safarova could not hold off the threat of defeat any longer, pushing a weary forehand into the net to end a match that lasted for three hours.
Meanwhile, last year's Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki pulled out of the event due to illness, granting Kirsten Flipkens a walkover into the last 16.