Maria Sharapova breathed a sigh of relief after progressing to the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time since 2011 with a straight-sets win over unseeded Zarina Diyas.
It was far from straightforward for the 2004 champion, who was made to work hard by the dangerous Kazakh for her 6-4 6-4 win on Court One.
With the score at 5-2, Sharapova lost a break point that would have given her the first set and the No 4 seed was then broken by Diyas to make the score 5-4.
A double fault from the Russian on break point gave Diyas a 2-1 lead in the second set and she went 3-1 ahead before Sharapova recovered her rhythm.
Sharapova, who lost at this stage to Angelique Kerber 12 months ago, said: “Looking back at last year’s match, it was a tough three‑setter, a very physical match. I didn’t come through.
“Of course, you always think back and think what could have happened if I did manage to win a few of those points and how far I could have gone.
“Obviously, being back in the situation of the fourth round, I tried to put all my effort into get further. As we all know, it only gets tougher here.
“I thought, especially in the second set, she started being more aggressive. When she finds those lines on the serve, it’s tough to get back.”
Sharapova’s next opponent is the unseeded American Coco Vandeweghe, who took the scalp of No 6 seed Lucie Safarova in their fourth round match.
And the Russian – who has yet to lose a set at this year’s Wimbledon – pinpointed the 23-year-old’s serve as a weapon that could cause her damage when the two pair up for tomorrow’s quarter-final showdown.
Sharapova said: “I think it’s been a tremendous effort for her to get to this stage of the tournament.
“With the serve she has, her game really revolves around that serve, and she’s been using it quite effectively in her previous four matches.
“The return will be extremely important tomorrow, especially taking care of my service games.
“It’s always tricky playing against a really good server on grass because a few points here and there can ultimately tell the difference in the winner and the loser.”
Feature image courtesy of Wimbledon, via Youtube, with thanks