Kerber thrashes Sharapova to reach fourth round

Gladys Abbott
January 21, 2018

Angelique Kerber crushed Maria Sharapova in straight sets in a battle of former champions at the Australian Open on Saturday.

Sharapova said Kerber was the more aggressive on court and took more risks.

In a third-round match against Angelique Kerber that was hyped as being worthy of a final, only one player competed at a championship level. She's always unsafe, especially at the grand slams.

It was a smackdown, and so one-sided that Sharapova left the court quickly after the affair.

"I'm really pleased with where my game is at at the moment", Djokovic added.

For a long while it seemed the Australian Open might lose its top seed as well, as Simona Halep earlier went toe-to-toe with the unheralded, diminutive American Lauren Davis for three hours and 44 minutes.

The Serb had taken the first set 6-2 but needed a lengthy break for treatment.

Unseeded Russian Sharapova, back in Melbourne after testing positive for a banned substance following her quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams here in 2016, which resulted in a 15-month ban, had looked menacing in the opening two rounds. "I'm doing that every single day, trying to live consciously".

Halep will play the victor of Saturday's later match between local hope Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.

Flying under the radar, the 17th seed has surrendered just 16 games on her way to the fourth round after beating Romania's Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-4.

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He has beaten the Spaniard in all five career meetings, including in straight sets in the fourth round at the French Open previous year.

After holding serve to lead 2-1 in the second set, the 14th seed took a medical time-out and lay down at the Margaret Court Arena as a trainer worked feverishly on his lower back.

Kerber's next match is against Hsieh Su-wei, who followed up her win over Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza with a 6-2, 7-5 win against No. 26 Agnieszka Radwanska to return to the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the first time in a decade.

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova is also in action, against Lucie Safarova, while eighth seed Caroline Garcia meets unseeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

"Expectations are different", this year, Federer said. I'm kind of forced to be very cautious of what happens day-to-day. "Don't know if (winning) is going to happen this year, but so far, so good".

The mouth-watering match-up of the only the two Australian Open winners - and Grand Slam champions - left in the women's draw got top billing on Rod Laver Arena but was turned into a tennis exhibition by Kerber.

Djokovic later played down the extent of the problem, saying "it's okay, nothing major".

He has a tougher challenge in the next round against Chung Hyeon, who became the third South Korean to reach the fourth round of a slam after he surprised everyone but himself by upsetting the fourth seed, Alexander Zverev, in five sets.

"Hyeon Chung, who has beaten Zverev today, is someone that is very disciplined".

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic look destined to collide for the 46th time before they leave Melbourne, where they own a total of 11 titles.

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