Maria Sharapova again had to dig deep as she defeated fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova in three sets in the second round of the China Open on Tuesday. The former number one, on the comeback trail after a 15-month drug ban, was never really comfortable on her serve on the outside hard court in Beijing, where she had the crowd behind her. She battled through the first set 6-4, before the 33rd-ranked Makarova streaked into a 4-1 lead in the second set and levelled the match 6-4.
The five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova racked up eight double faults through the first two sets before swiftly sealing the match in the decider, 6-1.
Sharapova, a lowly 104 in the world and on a wildcard at the China Open, has yet to win a tournament since returning to tennis in April following a ban for taking the banned substance meldonium.
The 30-year-old saved match point in her opener on Saturday before beating the 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova in three thrilling sets.