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Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Maria Sharapova sees off battling Zheng Jie

Maria Sharapova shakes hands with Zheng Jie
Sharapova (left) has joined a host of top players in Hong Kong

Maria Sharapova came from a set down to beat China's Zheng Jie at the Hong Kong Classic exhibition event.

The former world number one's greater power eventually told as she came through 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2 in just under two and a half hours.

"It was great to have a three-set match. I will take whatever comes my way," said the world number 14.

The Hong Kong event is Sharapova's only warm-up event before the Australian Open, which begins on 18 January.

The 22-year-old missed out on defending her title last year as she recovered from right shoulder surgery.

She eventually returned to singles action in May, but has won only one title since April 2008, and remains outside the world's top 10.

"I keep getting stronger," Sharapova stated earlier this week.

"I'm ready for the challenge [in Australia] - mentally and physically."

Zheng, the world number 35, edged an epic 65-minute first set in a thrilling tie-break.

But Sharapova regrouped in the second set and though Zheng battled back from a break down to draw level at 4-4, the Russian broke again to take the match into a decider, which she won comfortably.

Earlier, world number nine Vera Zvonareva saw off the spirited challenge of Japanese teenager Ayumi Morita 6-2 6-2.

Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka are also participating in the event in Hong Kong.



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