Close  

Defending champ gone: Maria Sharapova ousts Caroline Wozniacki in Australia

/ 03:58 PM January 18, 2019
Maria Sharapova

Russia’s Maria Sharapova celebrates a point win over Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

MELBOURNE, Australia— Maria Sharapova smacked a forehand winner — the sort she’s hit so many times, at so many key moments, over the years — to take control against defending champion Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open. Sharapova balled up her fists, shut her eyes, threw back her head and let out a yell.

She showed she’s ready to be a Grand Slam factor once again.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sharapova grabbed the last four games to eliminate Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in nearly 2½ hours Friday and reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park, building the statement-making victory with aggressive groundstrokes that gave her a 37-10 edge in total winners.

“I haven’t played many matches in the last year, especially against top players,” Sharapova said. “And these are the kinds of matches I train for.”

FEATURED STORIES

She cut her 2018 season short in September because of problems with her surgically repaired right shoulder.

Sharapova is seeded only 30th at Melbourne Park, where she won the 2008 title for one of her five Grand Slam trophies but hasn’t been past the quarterfinals since 2015.

The 31-year-old Russian missed the tournament in 2017 during a 15-month doping suspension that was triggered by a positive doping test during the previous year’s Australian Open.

Wozniacki was the No. 3 seed in Australia, a year after beating Simona Halep in the final to claim her first major championship.

Next for Sharapova is a matchup against Australia’s Ash Barty, who beat Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-1 to equal her best showing at any major tournament.

“I know,” Sharapova said, “it’s going to be a tough crowd.”

No. 15-seeded Barty took two nearly years off from the tennis tour after the 2014 U.S. Open and played cricket during that time.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Her story is phenomenal,” Sharapova said. “I know she took a little break and came back and just resurged.”

Against Wozniacki, Sharapova hung in there in a back-and-forth contest.

Wozniacki led 3-2 in the third set after holding at love. But Sharapova finally gained the upper hand with a break for a 4-3 lead, clinched with that big forehand she was so excited about.

After holding to go up 5-3, Sharapova broke yet again to end it, closing with a big cross-court backhand.

“The level was quite high,” Sharapaova said. “I knew I was going to get a tough match.”

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Australian Open, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Sports, Tennis
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.



© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.