LONDON,2011 (AFP) - Fifth seeded Maria Sharapova recovered from 4-1 down in the first set to reach the Wimbledon third round on Friday with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 win over gutsy British teenager Laura Robson.
Sharapova, the 2004 champion, will face Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic for a place in the last 16 on Saturday.
But she faced a real test in the opening exchanges, as well as the closing stages, against 17-year-old Robson, ranked 254 in the world and playing on a wildcard.
“She started so well. She was going for her shots and serving well that I couldn't get too many looks on her first serve,” said Sharapova.
“But I played better as the match went on. She's young and moving up and playing good tennis. I didn't play my best and I feel like I made more errors than I had to.”Robson, the 2008 junior champion, broke to lead 2-0 in the opening set on Court One and stretched out to 4-1 before the Russian superstar, watched by fiance and NBA basketball star Sasha Vujacic, hit back in the seventh game.
Robson sensed a chance when Sharapova double-faulted to give up a 4/2 lead in the tiebreak before the Russian reeled off the next five points to take the opener after an enthralling 68 minutes of action.
Sharapova was quickly ahead at 2-0 in the second set but left-hander Robson dug deep and retrieved the break immediately.
The former world number one, however, broke again to love and then backed it up with a convincing hold to go to 4-1 and another break against a wilting Robson for 5-1.
But Robson, buoyed by the home support, clung on and came back to 3-5 before Sharapova, showing all the experience of a three-time Grand Slam title winner claimed victory.