Maria Sharapova: 'Mental side' helped flailing form

Maria Sharapova and Alexandra Panova spoke candidly about their second-round Australian Open clash, one the former managed to win in a thriller.

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After such an undulating contest, it's hard for players to accurately sum up proceedings so succinctly.

But that is exactly what Australian Open second seed Maria Sharapova and fellow Russian Alexandra Panova did after their Rod Laver Arena thriller on Wednesday.

Sharapova, somehow, stole victory from the jaws of shock defeat to shatter Panova 6-1 4-6 7-5.

The world number two raced to the first set dropping just two points on serve - but it was her first serve that let her down thereafter.

The qualifier Panova had two match points in the 10th game on serve, but two Sharapova forehand winners saw the opportunities fade.

Sharapova, graciously, conceded the match was won in the mind - Panova's inexperienced one crumbling, and the five-time major winner's one holding on for dear life.

"I thought my thought process through the match to that point was pretty negative. I think I was dwelling too much on my mistakes, what I was doing wrong, not really being in the present, something that I'm really usually good at," the 2008 champion said.

"At that point when you're behind and you feel like you're making a lot of errors, you don't feel like you have a good rhythm out there, I just really tried to take it a point at a time, think positively, and change my thought process a little bit.

"When other things aren't working, maybe the mental side of things will help you out. I think in the end maybe that's what did."

Panova, who was nerveless right up until the point of a 4-1 40-15 lead in the deciding set, said it was not about emotion for her - just that Sharapova had the right shots up her sleeve when it counted.

"I didn't feel anything. I just had to win just another point or something," the 25-year-old said.

"She came up with good shots, with the winners. What could I do?

"I should played even better or something to keep the momentum.

"She's a great fighter. She's a great champion. To take it from her, you really need some extra."

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