Giorgi hangs on to beat Kanepi at Miami Open

March 21 (Reuters) - Italy's Camila Giorgi survived a near nightmare third-set collapse to edge Estonian Kaia Kanepi 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 7-6(4) in a marathon first-round match at the Miami Open on Tuesday.

Giorgi appeared in complete control when she took a 5-0 third set lead but the veteran Kanepi refused to go away, erasing two match points to draw level at 5-5.

Despite issuing 14 double faults and at one point throwing her racket in frustration, Giorgi stayed composed in the final set breaker, smacking a forehand winner on match point to end the three-hour, 32-minute slugfest.

Giorgi will next face 14th-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who like the other 32 seeded players at the tournament received a first-round bye.

Elsewhere, Belgian Elise Mertens brushed aside American Alycia Parks 6-1 6-4 to set up a second-round clash with eighth-seed Daria Kasatkina.

Mertens, a three-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, put her net skills to good use to see off Parks and set up a meeting with the crafty Kasatkina.

"She has a very good forehand and she can get a lot of balls back," Mertens said of the Russian.

"She's number eight seed for a reason. I'm just going to try to focus on myself."

Canadians Rebecca Marino and Katherine Sebov, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk and China's Wang Xiyu were among the other first-round winners at the WTA 1000 event.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Coates

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