Scream queen Maria Sharapova shrieked mostly out of frustration before outlasting Estonian Kaia Kanepi 4-6 6-3 6-2 in a scrappy Brisbane International quarter-final on Thursday.
Kanepi, the 2012 Brisbane International champion, threatened at one stage of their error-riddled display to do what few can – silence Sharapova.
However, four-time grand slam champion Sharapova regained her composure to book a likely semi-final showdown with world No.1 Serena Williams.
Sharapova launched into her trademark screams on each point but little else resembled the world No.4 as she struggled to find her serving groove against the hard-hitting Kanepi.
The third seed was in her first tournament in five months after recovering from a shoulder complaint – and it showed on Thursday.
In just her second match since August after being gifted a Brisbane quarter-final berth due to Aussie Ashleigh Barty’s withdrawal, Sharapova faced her toughest assignment yet against world No.30 Kanepi.
And the first Estonian to reach a grand slam quarter-final and win a WTA tour title appeared up for the challenge, claiming the first set in 48 minutes.
No one held their serve in the first four games of the two-hour match as both mixed ugly unforced errors with thundering service returns.
Sharapova only held her serve twice amid a total of five breaks in the opening set.
The second began like the first with the pair trading breaks in the first two games before a Kanepi double fault gifted Sharapova a 4-2 lead and she didn’t look back.
Sharapova broke again in the third game of the third to set up the win but she was left with plenty of homework to do ahead of her likely pre-Australian Open test against Williams.