Mired in a marathon game midway through the opening set, Maria Sharapova wore down her opponent with characteristic resolve and relentlessness, then won the last point without hitting a shot.
That put Sharapova ahead to stay, and she beat fellow Russian Elena Vesnina on a muggy, 85-degree Fahrenheit afternoon at the Sony Open, 6-4, 6-2.
The No. 3-seeded Sharapova moved into the fourth round, eager to fill one of the few holes in her resume. While she completed a career Grand Slam last year, she has never won Key Biscayne, losing the finals in 2005, `06, `11 and `12.
Her pivotal moment Sunday against Vesnina came at 3-all in the first set. The next game went to deuce seven times, with Sharapova repeatedly erasing a deficit, until Vesnina dumped a weary second serve into the net on break point.
All told, Sharapova benefited from eight double-faults by Vesnina, and erased eight of the nine break points she faced.
Two seeded women were eliminated - No. 6 Angelique Kerber and No. 11...