Australian Open 2019: Maria Sharapova beats defending champion Caroline Wozniacki


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Maria Sharapova

Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online from 19 January.

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki was knocked out of the Australian Open as five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova provided a reminder of her ability with a three-set win.

Russia’s Sharapova, seeded 30th, hit 37 winners in a 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory to reach the fourth round.

Wozniacki, 28, led 4-1 in the first set, only to see Sharapova battle back.

The third seed broke in the final game of the second to level, Sharapova edging a tight third in Melbourne.

The 2008 Australian Open champion took her second match point to win in two hours and 24 minutes and set up a fourth-round meeting with Australia’s Ashleigh Barty on Sunday.

“I thought the level was quite high. I knew I’d get a tough match,” Sharapova, 31, said.

Danish world number three Wozniacki, defending the ranking points won in Melbourne last year, is set to slide down the standings as a result of the defeat.

Sharapova’s talent shines through

Sharapova has been unable to climb back into the upper echelons of the game since returning from a doping ban in April 2017, making just one Grand Slam quarter-final at last year’s French Open.

But against Wozniacki she proved she still has the talent – and, most importantly, desire – to cause problems for the world’s best.

It was not Sharapova’s biggest win in terms of ranking since returning, having also beat Simona Halep – who was then second in the world – at the 2017 US Open.

While she obviously impressed with her quality of play, her sheer will-to-win also stood out.

Against one of the game’s fittest and most relentless players, the Russian won 17 of 23 rallies which lasted nine shots or more.

That included a pivotal moment at 4-4 in the first set where she switched hands in a 23-shot rally to stay in the opening point and went on to win it.

In turn, she went on to hold and broke in the next game on her way to the opening set.

Sharapova was constantly screaming in celebration after seeing winners go in and an intense fist-pump at her box moments after clinching victory illustrated how much it meant.

“I haven’t played many matches in the last year against top players so it was really rewarding to win that last set,” she said.

“These are the kinds of matches I train for.”


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