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By Alberto Amalfi | Tuesday, January 7, 2020

 
Maria Sharapova

American qualifier Jennifer Brady fought off Maria Sharapova 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3) to advance to a Brisbane round of 16 showdown vs. world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.

Photo credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images/Brisbane International Facebook

Maria Sharapova was slugging with the purpose of a woman poised to celebrate her Brisbane return.

Jennifer Brady played major party pooper to Sharapova's revelry aim.

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The American qualifier fought off the five-time Grand Slam champion 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3) to advance to a round of 16 showdown vs. world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.



Playing her first WTA-level match since suffering a 6-1, 6-1 thrashing to Serena Williams at the US Open last August, Sharapova saved all three break points she faced building a one-set lead.

The 53rd-ranked Brady began using her heavy kick serve to set up forehand strikes. Playing near flawless tennis, Brady powered through the second set without committing an unforced error.

Tension escalated in the decider as neither woman could gain separation.

The serve was a key stroke in the decisive tie break. Sharapova committed five of her 11 double faults in the third set, including successive double faults at 3-4 in the breaker handing Brady three match points.

Brady, who won 14 of 16 second-serve points in the final set, converted her first match point when Sharapova netted a volley to end a pulsating two hour, 14-minute triumph.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova found her range in the second set rolling through 12 of the last 13 games in a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The 2019 Australian Open finalist pounded 34 winners topping Pavlyuchenkova for the eighth time in 12 meetings.

“I think I played pretty solid, pretty good, if I’m not counting the first set,” Kvitova said. “But in the end of the first set, I think I find a little bit of me, finally.

“And I just stayed there and [remained] positive, which makes the difference afterwards, which it was first two, three games in the second set. That was kind of the point when the match turned around.”

The fifth-seeded Czech will face Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova, who upset Sloane Stephens, in the round of 16.

 

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