MARIA Sharapova wasn’t about to disappoint her adoring Filipino fans.
On the brink of another defeat in her International Premier Tennis League debut in Manila, the world No. 2 won the final four games to beat UAE Royals' Kristina Mladenovic, 6-5, in their women's singles match on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Cheered by thousands of Filipino fans, Sharapova came charging back from a 2-5 deficit by breaking Mladenovic's serve twice then taking the tiebreaker, called the five-minute shootout, to atone for an earlier loss in mixed doubles with fellow grand slam champion Andy Murray.
“I didn’t want to lose my first singles match in Manila,” said Sharapova to cheers from the MOA crowd.
Sharapova’s first match in Manila actually ended in a loss after she and Murray bowed to Mladenovic and Nenad Zimonjic, 6-4, in the mixed doubles after their comeback fell short.
Down 1-5, Sharapova and Murray broke in the eighth game and won the ninth after winning a long rally to trail by just one, 4-5, behind the cheering of their 'home' fans.
But UAE held serve the following game after several smashes by Zimonjic as UAE took a commanding lead in the tie.
Sharapova also appeared on the verge of another defeat in the women’s singles against Mladenovic when she went down 5-2. But she came back by breaking Mladenovic in the 10th to send the match to a tiebreaker.
This time, the Russian star netter held on, quickly building a 6-1 lead in the shootout on the way to the win.