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Tennis: Djokovic, Williams into 4th round in Australia

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia makes a forehand return to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)

By DENNIS PASSA

The Associated Press

First published Jan 17 2014 09:04AM
Updated Jan 17, 2014 11:40PM

Melbourne, Australia • Maria Sharapova recovered from the longest, hottest match of her career to beat Alize Cornet 6-1, 7-6 (6) Saturday and reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Her third-round match was played in high humidity but in temperatures of about 72 degrees, considerably cooler than the scorching 108-degree conditions she endured for 3 hours, 28 minutes in her second-round win over Karin Knapp two days previously. That preceded the first match suspensions under the tournament’s Extreme Heat Policy in five years.

Again, though, Sharapova struggled to close out. She took 50 minutes between her first and last match points against Knapp, and needed almost 30 minutes to finish off Cornet — she missed a match point with a wayward backhand on the Frenchwoman’s serve and then got broken twice while trying to serve for the match.

Sharapova had six doubles-faults and 29 of her total 35 unforced errors in the second set after breezing through the first.

"After the last match I’m just happy to get through this," Sharapova said. "Definitely need to step it up. I was lucky to get through the other day, now that I’m in the second week, I’m level."

Sharapova will next play Dominika Cibulkova, who beat No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-0 in 59 minutes. Suarez Navarro was clearly still fatigued from her three-hour, second-round match in the extreme heat. She hit only two winners against Cibulkova.

Sloane Stephens advanced to the fourth round with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

Former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic had a 6-4,7-5 win over Kurumi Nara, her third consecutive victory over a Japanese player, to set up a fourth-round match against No. 11 Simona Halep, who advanced with a 6-1, 6-4 over qualifier Zarina Diyas.

On the men’s side, Roger Federer beat Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. And in a later match, top-ranked Rafael Nadal squared off against Gael Monfils.

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