Maria Sharapova (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova must surely be considered one of the favourites to lift the title after she advanced to the third round while her prospective quarter-final opponent and defending champion Serena Williams fell.
After first World No. 2 Li Na and now World No. 1 Williams crashed out of the tournament, Sharapova sets pulses fluttering as she struggled to get on terms with Tsvetana Pironkova, who established a 4-2 lead before Sharapova settled into her game.
Sharapova went on a run of five games out of the next six and with the help of a lucky netcord, she captured the first set. Pironkova tried to stay with the Russian, but she went on another games spree, closing out the win as the weather conditions looked gloomier by the minute, 7-5 6-2.
"I started off quite cold, wasn't moving my feet enough and just didn't have a good rhythm," Sharapova said. "Once I got the break back, I started feeling much better about my game, and I was able to hold that until the end of the match."
With the top two seeds out of the way, Sharapova’s route to the final has become considerably easier, but she will not allow herself to get too caught up with the end-game.
"You always have to follow your path and concentrate on your work and who's ahead of you and not get worried about what's going on. Obviously when you go on court you're aware of a lot of the upsets, not just among the women, but with the men as well. So it's great to get a win in that type of atmosphere."
She faces the winner of the match between Monica Niculescu and Paula Ormaechea, with was suspended due to rain with Niculescu leading 6-2 2-0.