Break points were sparse in the opening set – the pair fending off one each – as Sharapova edged a tie-break before Safarova hit back to take the second set in similar fashion.
A chaotic third set ensued as Safarova reeled off five straight games to convert a 5-1 deficit into an opportunity to serve for the match, only for Sharapova to break back and force a deciding tie-break.
It was Sharapova who prevailed, stuttering over the finish line in three hours and 23 minutes to set up a tie with fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Stuttgart Grand Prix results
5-Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) beat Mona Barthel (Germany) 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3
6-Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-6(2)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) beat Diana Marcinkevica (Latvia) 6-3 6-2
Alisa Kleybanova (Russia) beat Ajla Tomljanovic (Croatia) 6-2 6-4
Roberta Vinci (Italy) beat Annika Beck (Germany) 6-3 6-2
Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) beat Gioia Barbieri (Italy) 6-2 6-3
8-Sara Errani (Italy) beat Klara Koukalova (Czech Republic) 6-3 6-4
Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) beat Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 6-0 6-4
- Sports & Recreation
- Lucie Safarova