Maria Sharapova powered her way past another opponent at the Sony Open in Miami on Monday as the Russian world number two remains on target to finally claim a tournament that has brought her plenty of heartbreak.
The third seed shrugged off the challenge of Klara Zakopalova, easing to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over the Czech to advance to the quarterfinals and inch closer making it fifth time lucky in Florida.
Sharapova was beaten in the last two finals after also falling in the tournament decider in 2005 and 2006, and her determination to go one better this year was evident against Zakopalova, who was helpess in the face of the Russian's power.
Earlier, top seed Serena Williams stared defeat in the face before mounting an exciting comeback to overcome Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.
Williams trailed by a set and 4-1 before she reeled off the next five games and ultimately took the match 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“This particular time I just thought to myself, ‘I’ve been down worse. It’s nothing new. Just keep fighting’,” Williams told reporters.
‘I never give up. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in life or on the tennis court, I keep fighting. That’s what I kept doing today.”
Williams closed out the contest with her 14th ace in a battle that lasted a little less than two hours. The American is bidding to become the tournament’s first six-time winner, and claim her first title here since 2008.
On the men’s side, Andy Murray stumbled into the last 16 after overcoming a determined display from Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.
The second seed was under the cosh for much of the opening set but turned things around to win 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 in one hour and 54 minutes.
Murray, who won the title here in 2009, struggled with his first serve from the off and found himself a break down in game four after some confident returning from his opponent.
The Scot broke back the very next game when Dimitrov missed an attempted lob but the Bulgarian opened up another lead straightaway, with a forehand volley at full stretch which left Murray stranded.
Dimitrov then saw two set points saved in game eight as Murray clung on by his fingertips. However, luck was on the Briton’s side in the next game when Dimitrov, serving for the set, dished up three double faults to gift Murray a route back in.
The opening set was eventually settled by a tie break, where a couple of unforced errors from Dimitrov played right into the hands of the world number two. That knocked some of the confidence out of the Bulgarian and he dropped game two of the second set, putting a weak forehand into the net.
Murray wasted two further break points in the sixth game but soon found himself serving for the contest. And although his first two match points went begging, it was third time lucky for Murray as Dimitrov put a backhand into the net.
Murray’s next opponent will be Italian 16th seed Andreas Seppi, who also came through a tough encounter against Thomaz Bellucci 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.
Eighth seed Richard Gasquet eased into the last 16 with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny while Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, the 10th seed, beat David Goffin of Belgium by the same scoreline.
Results: Men’s singles (third round, prefix denotes seedings): 9-Marin Cilic (Cro) bt 20-John Isner (US) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3); 17-Sam Querrey (US) w/o 14-Milos Raonic (Can); 4-Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Alejandro Falla (Col) 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4; 6-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt Jarkko Nieminen (Fin) 6-3, 6-3; 2-Andy Murray (Gbr) bt 29-Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3; 16-Andreas Seppi (Ita) bt Thomaz Bellucci (Bra) 7-5, 4-6, 6-2; 10-Nicolas Almagro (Esp) bt David Goffin (Bel) 6-3, 6-4; 8-Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt 28-Mikhail Youzhny (Rus) 6-3, 6-4.
Women’s singles (fourth round): 3-Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt 21-Klara Zakopalova (Cze) 6-2, 6-2; 22-Jelena Jankovic (Srb) bt 28-Sorana Cirstea (Rom) 6-0, 6-4; 8-Sara Errani (Ita) bt 12-Ana Ivanovic (Srb) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2; 15-Roberta Vinci (Ita) bt 32-Alize Cornet (Fra) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4; 4-Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt 16-Sloane Stephens (US) 4-6, 6-2, 6-0; 1-Serena Williams (US) bt 13-Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2; 30-Kirsten Flipkens (Bel) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (Cro) 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-3; 5-Li Na (Chn) bt Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Esp) 7-6 (8-6), 6-2.