Sharapova knocks out defending champ Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki was knocked out of the Australian Open by former world number one Maria Sharapova, who fired a warning to the rest of the field with a resounding three-set win yesterday.

Five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova struck 37 winners in a 6-4 4-6 6-3 win to set up a fourth-round clash with home favourite Ashleigh Barty.

Wozniacki, who was competing as a defending champion at a Grand Slam for the first time, said it was just one of those days after being outplayed by her Russian opponent.

Maria Sharapova

“In tennis, you’re one-on-one, you battle and you do your best. One day you win, some days you lose,” the Dane said.

“I gave it everything I had today. She was just a little bit better than me and that was really it.”

Second seed Angelique Kerber celebrated her 31st birthday with a 58-minute 6-1 6-0 win over Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell. In the men’s draw, 17-times Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal needed six match points to overcome Australian number one Alex de Minaur 6-1 6-2 6-4 in a little over two hours.

Defending champion Roger Federer produced a serving masterclass to put away American Taylor Fritz 6-2 7-5 6-2 under the roof on Rod Laver Arena.

The 37-year-old Swiss will next face Greek 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3 3-6 7-6(7) 6-4.

After saving two match points in the fourth set tiebreak, sixth seed Marin Cilic overcame Spanish 35-year-old Fernando Verdasco 4-6 3-6 6-1 7-6(8) 6-3 to reach the last 16 while American Sloane Stephens, seeded fifth, beat Croatia’s Petra Martic 7-6(6) 7-6(5) to move into the fourth round where she meets Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. American teenager Amanda Anisimova pulled off an upset by swatting aside 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 6-2.

The unseeded 17-year-old, who reached the quarter-finals at Auckland earlier this month, prevailed in 65 minutes to set up a fourth-round clash with Petra Kvitova or Belinda Bencic.

Tomas Berdych dropped the opening set but recovered to overcome Diego Schwartzman 5-7 6-3 7-5 6-4. The Czech missed the last six months of 2018 due to a back issue but has since returned to form, reaching the final of the Qatar Open earlier this month.

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