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Maria Sharapova survives scare, Peng Shuai, Ekaterina Makarova ease through

Maria Sharapova avoided being another casualty in the bottom half of the Australian Open women's singles draw, but only narrowly.

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Maria Sharapova survived match points, while Peng Shuai and Ekaterina Makarova cruised at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Second seed Maria Sharapova held off a brave challenge from fellow Russian Alexandra Panova, a qualifier, to prevail 6-1 4-6 7-5 in their second-round clash on Rod Laver Arena.

The 2008 champion trailed 4-1 and 40-15 in the third set, and Panova had two match points on her own serve at 5-4 up - but blew them both.

Sharapova's victory was reminiscent of her second-round win 12 months back, when she was taken to 10-8 in an advantage third set by Karin Knapp.

Earlier, Makarova - the 10th seed - had full control of her clash with Italy's Roberta Vinci, the Russian lefty coasting to a 6-2 6-4 victory.

The contest was entirely on the racquet of Makarova, who defeated Serena Williams on the same court two years ago, as she clocked 21 winners in wrapping up victory in one hour 14 minutes.

Next up for Makarova is 22nd seed Karolina Pliskova, after the promising Czech ousted French wildcard Oceane Dodin 7-5 5-7 6-4 in one hour 59 minutes.

Italian 14th seed Sara Errani downed an erroneous Silvia Soler-Espinosa 7-6 (7-3) 6-3, the Spaniard committing 48 unforced errors.

In more bad news for the Spanish contingent, Lara Arruabarrena was felled at the hands of Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 4-6 6-4.

Chinese 21st seed Peng routed Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-1, committing just nine unforced errors.

Next up for the US Open semi-finalist is Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova, who outmuscled power-hitter Monica Puig from Puerto Rico 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

Caroline Garcia stormed into the third round, dispatching of Swiss Stefania Voegele 6-3 6-4.

Germany's Julia Goerges made it to the third round of a major for the first time in two years, downing Czech Klara Koukalova 6-3 4-6 6-2.

Goerges' countrywoman, teenager Carina Witthoeft, continued her stunning run at Melbourne Park, thrashing American Christina McHale 6-3 6-0.

Witthoeft has dropped just seven games in four sets, and will take on Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu for a spot in the fourth round - after the latter dismissed Czech Katerina Siniakova 7-5 6-4.

Lucie Hradecka, Ana Ivanovic's conqueror, progressed to the last 32 with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory over Slovenian Polona Hercog.

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