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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 03:09 GMT
Sharapova wins in scorching heat
Maria Sharapova
Sharapova has yet to get past the semi-finals at the Australian Open
Top seed Maria Sharapova survived searing heat and a stomach problem to beat France's Camille Pin in an epic first-round tie at the Australian Open.

The Russian was two points from defeat after letting a 5-0 lead slip in the final set but somehow came through for a 6-3 4-6 9-7 win.

"It was one of the toughest matches I've played here," said Sharapova. "It's definitely not my best tennis."

Sharapova goes on to play compatriot Anastassia Rodionova in round two.

In other matches, 13th seed Ana Ivanovic beat Vania King 6-2 6-0, and 12th seed Anna Chakvetadze beat Sybille Bammer 6-4 7-5.

India's Sania Mirza defeated Ukrainian Olga Savchuk 6-3 7-5 while there were victories for Australian home hopes Samantha Stosur and Alicia Molik.

There was bad luck for Greek 32nd seed Eleni Daniilidou as she was upset 6-4 6-0 by Japan's Aiko Nakamura.

It was hard to think about what you were going to do on court

Maria Sharapova

With the temperature at Melbourne Park up to 36C by midday, all play on the outside courts was suspended as the tournament's extreme heat policy was invoked.

The roofs on the two main stadia were closed but only after matches already on court were completed, in accordance with tournament rules.

That included Sharapova, who had to battle away against a sprightly Pin in the full glare of the midday sun.

After taking the opening set, she let world number 62, Pin, back into the match in the second.

And a combination of nerves, heat exhaustion, cramping and what she later described as "a pinch" in her stomach contributed to the loss of five straight games in the decider.

But the Russian did not give up and played some superb tennis to haul her way back from 7-6 down to win in two hours 51 minutes.

"It was hard to think about what you were going to do on court," said Sharapova. "You were mentally trying to find a way to make the point shorter, to find a way to win.

"It was hard for me, it was hard for my opponent.

"It's inhuman to play three hours in that kind of heat, I don't think our bodies were made to do that. When it's that hot your mind doesn't work properly."

Most of Tuesday's 64 scheduled matches were delayed by about eight hours, with play resuming under floodlights at around 2000 on the outside courts.

More than 230 spectators were treated at the venue for conditions including dehydration, blisters caused by extreme sunburn, fainting and dizziness.

And, when play resumed, seeded pair Flavia Pennetta and Eleni Daniilidou were the first top names to crash out of the event.

Italian Pennetta, seeded 28th, went out in straight sets to Estonian Kaia Kanepi 5-7 6-7 (3-7), while Japan's Aiko Nakamura beat 32nd seed Daniilidou of Greece 6-4 6-0.

Men's Australian Open draw
13 Jan 07 |  Tennis
Women's Australian Open draw
13 Jan 07 |  Tennis


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