China Open: Maria Sharapova beats Anastasija Sevastova in three-hour epic

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova was given a wildcard into the main draw in Beijing

Russia's Maria Sharapova put her recent US Open defeat by Anastasija Sevastova behind her with a gripping three-hour win over the Latvian at the China Open.

Sharapova, playing for the first time since that defeat in New York 26 days ago, saved a match point as she won 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 7-6 (9-7) in Beijing.

The 30-year-old wildcard, ranked 104th, will face compatriot Ekaterina Makarova or Jennifer Brady of the US next.

Second seed Simona Halep and 10th seed Angelique Kerber also progressed.

Romania's Halep beat American Alison Riske 6-3 3-6 6-2, German Kerber saw off Japan's Naomi Osaka 6-2 7-5, and 12th seed Petra Kvitova beat fellow Czech Kristyna Pliskova 6-3 7-5.

Sevastova, the world number 18, ended Sharapova's return to Grand Slam tennis following a doping ban in the fourth round of the US Open, but the Russian prevailed in a remarkable rematch in Beijing.

The five-time Grand Slam champion led by a set and a break, and by a double break in the final set, but in the end had to fend off a match point as she finally converted her fourth after three hours and five minutes.

"I didn't give in, which I think is a really good sign considering it's been a few weeks since I played and she was someone that I lost to in my previous match," said Sharapova.

She added that she was not at her best "physically and emotionally" when she faced Sevastova in New York, but believes she is getting stronger in both respects.

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