England, Jun28: Maria Sharapova's latest win at Wimbledon took two days and considerable resilience.
The top-ranked Sharapova was on the verge of victory Thursday when her old serving problems briefly resurfaced. The lapse cost her the second set, but she recovered to beat dangerous Tsvetana Pironkova, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-0.
The Court 1 match, suspended overnight in the second set, ended three minutes after Serena Williams concluded her second-round victory on Centre Court, beating qualifier Melinda Czink 6-1, 6-4.
Sharapova saved five set points in the first set and led the second set 3-1 when play was halted Tuesday because of darkness. She lost the first two games when the match resumed, and double-faulted on her first three service points in the tiebreaker.
Sharapova has struggled with an inconsistent serve while coping with a shoulder injury in recent years, but in the final set she had no trouble with her serve—or anything else. She won 21 of the last 27 points and finished with just 11 unforced errors.
Pironkova beat Venus Williams at Wimbledon each of the past two years, but Sharapova's at her best in winner-take-all sets. She improved her record in three-set matches to 9-0 this year and 21-1 since the beginning of 2011.
Sharapova won Wimbledon at age 17 in 2004 and won the French Open this month to complete a career Grand Slam.
While she battled an erratic serve, with eight aces and 10 double-faults, four-time champion Serena Williams had no such trouble. She won 27 of 28 points on her first serve, had 10 aces and was never broken.
The sixth-seeded Williams could meet Sharapova in the final next week.
Sara Errani committed only five unforced errors and beat Anne Keothavong of Britain 6-1, 6-1. The 25-year-old Errani, an Italian who has blossomed in Grand Slam competition this year, matched her best Wimbledon showing by advancing to the third round.
She was the French Open runner-up this month to Sharapova, and she's 12-2 in major tournaments in 2012. She began this year with a career record of 15-17 at majors.
Playing the day's first match on Court 2, the 10th-seeded Errani erased all three break points she faced and won in 61 minutes. That was a grueling effort compared with Wednesday, when she played only one point to complete a victory suspended overnight because of rain.
The fourth day of play began with sunshine and temperatures heading into the low 80s.