London: Maria Sharapova scorched the Rod Laver Arena with her aggressive tennis to eliminate defending Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the third round on Friday.
Five-times Grand Slam champion Sharapova, who won her last major at the 2014 French Open, hit 37 winners against 10 from her opponent and converted her second matchpoint to set up a fourth round clash against Australia number one Ashleigh Barty.
Sharapova, who won the Australian Open in 2008, headed into the match with a 6-4 lead in their previous meetings and went for her shots from the first point making it difficult for the third-ranked Dane with a game built on defence.
“I thought the level was quite high. She is the defending champion of this event and it’s no secret she loves this arena,” Sharapova said in a courtside interview.
“These are the types of matches I train for so it’s really rewarding to win that last point. I’m definitely not walking around thinking I have experience and think they’re just going to give it to me.”
Wozniacki had the first break but handed the advantage back with a double fault before the Russian 30th seed, who was suspended for 15 months for taking banned drug meldonium in 2016, won three consecutive games to take the set.