MELBOURNE, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Defending Australian Open champion and two-time runner-up Maria Sharapova of Russia rallied to beat Italian Karin Knapp 6-3, 4-6 and 10-8 on Thursday's second-round match at Melbourne Park.
The three-set match took the third seed three hours and 28 minutes. The match seemed to be normal when the Russian took the first set 6-3, but the Italian, ranked 44th in the WTA, broke Sharapove twice in the second set to win it 6-4.
The final set lasted a whopping 115 minutes and Sharapova missed numbers of chances to serve it out. It was not until the 18th game did the former world No. 1 get off the court.
Sharapova was not only dealing with the opponent but also the searing heat. The temperature was already 38 degrees when the match started at 11 o'clock and increased to 44 degrees, forcing the organizers to enact the extreme heat policy and suspend matches on outside courts.
It did little to help Sharapova and Kanpp on Rod Laver Arena because the roof was only allowed to be closed between sets.
"I remember thinking I was going to pass out but I feel much better now," said Sharapova, who next will play the 25th seed Alize Cornet of France on Saturday.