Kerber sets up Sharapova clash of the champions

21 January, 2018, 00:44 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Sharaova

Sharapova pledged that her appetite for working to get back to the top is undimmed, saying: ' I usually look forward to resting in the first week of November, so I've got a long way to go until then.

When a backhand return victor brought up a break point and a trademark yell of "C'mon!" from Sharapova, you thought she might be on the point of turning the match on its head. The former No.1 turned back time in Melbourne.

The 21st seed, champion here two years ago, will face 2008 victor Maria Sharapova in Saturday's glamour clash after beating Croat Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1 in an hour and 10 minutes.

The German broke the Russian's serve three times, hitting the ball hard and clean and blowing the erratic Sharapova off the court. The German is 12-0 this year if you count the Hopman Cup exhibition and claiming her first WTA title of the year at Sydney.

That wasn't a set.

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It was a disciplined performance from Kerber, who made just five unforced errors, while Sharapova, forced to chase the match, racked up 24.

But it was just an illusion.

Hours before the 30-year-old Russian was dumped out in just 64 minutes by the resurgent Angelique Kerber, one of Williams' many fans on Twitter posted lightheartedly that she might be siding with Sharapova in this much-anticipated third round match.

Four unforced errors, including a flimsy attempt at a drop shot at 15-30, allowed 2016 champion Kerber a break and some breathing space and the German finished the contest easily.

Top seed Halep saved three match points as she fought back from the brink at 11-10 in the epic final set before serving out for the match on the fourth attempt at Rod Laver Arena. Kerber needed 70 minutes to end Vekic's best run in Melbourne 6-4, 6-1.

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Japan's Naomi Osaka overpowered Ashleigh Barty 6-4 6-2 to reach the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time.

Sixth-seeded Pliskova romped into the third round with a 6-1 6-1 dismissal of Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, joining former champion Sharapova, who earlier on Thursday ousted Latvian 14th seed Anastasija Sevastosa 6-1 7-6 (7-4).

One problem has been staying healthy when having to play a volume of matches in a short space of time.

The crafty Latvian had knocked Sharapova out of the fourth round at Flushing Meadows previous year during the Russian's return to grand slam action after a 15-month doping ban.

The pair of of former world No.1s will meet in the round of 32 on Saturday, with reigning French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko the only other woman still alive in the women's draw to have won a grand slam crown. "Her aggressive play worked today".

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The 36-year-old Swiss maestro is yet to drop a set in his quest for an incredible 20th Grand Slam title.

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