Maria Sharapova knocked out of Australian Open in brutal loss

Maria Sharapova knocked out of Australian Open in brutal loss

Maria Sharapova wanted to test her level against the leading players but found the answer a rather brutal one as she took just four games off a rejuvenated Angelique Kerber in the third round of the Australian Open.

Kerber is fast looking like the favourite for the women’s title and played at a very high level throughout the 6-1 6-3 victory, which lasted only 64 minutes.

Sharapova said she would not shy away from the work needed to try to get back to grand slam-winning level after her 15-month doping ban.

"There’s a lot of things I need to improve on," she said. "This is a process. It’s a lot of things that take time. To be able to get these matches, players that are playing this well, I’m going to face a lot of them this year. I’ll have to bring it. Today was not enough."

The match was a clash between the only two former champions in the draw and Kerber is looking ominously like the player who won her maiden slam in Melbourne two years ago before going on to win Wimbledon and finish 2016 as world number one.

She endured such a torrid year in 2017 that she dropped outside the top 20 but the confidence she has gained from an unbeaten start to this season was very evident against Sharapova.

She said: "I was really trying to not think about everything around and everything about the match, against who I’m playing. I was just more trying to go out on a special court for me and playing again good tennis."

Simona Halep said she was "almost dead" and needed sleep and chocolate after surviving 48 games and saving three match points in a 4-6 6-4 15-13 victory over American Lauren Davis.

After breaking Halep three times when she served for the match, 78th-ranked Davis had the Romanian at 0-40 and trailing 10-11 but could not take any of the chances.

Davis then began to struggle with two toenails that were falling off and she eventually ran out of puff as Halep finally served out the victory at the fourth time of asking after three hours and 44 minutes.

"I thought it’s over at that moment," said Halep of the match points. "But it was good because I relaxed my arm and I served pretty well those three balls. At 13-13 when I took the game, I said it’s my lucky number. So it’s going to be two in a row now."

Halep used to be known for getting very down on herself at tough moments but has worked hard with coach Darren Cahill on staying positive.

She said: "I think in the past I wouldn’t have fought that hard. Maybe when she had the match balls, maybe I would have lost it. It makes me really happy that I changed myself in a good way."

At 5ft 2in for Davis and 5ft 6in for Halep, it was a contest between two of the smaller women on the tour, but what they lack in height they more than make up for in speed and agility.

"I have always looked up to her and I think we have shown the world that we can be the best," said Davis.

Halep next faces big-hitting Japanese-American Naomi Osaka, who won the battle of the exciting young talents convincingly 6-4 6-2 against Australia’s Ashleigh Barty to reach the fourth round of a slam for the first time.

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova won one all-Czech battle against Lucie Safarova and faces another one against Barbora Strycova while eighth seed Caroline Garcia will take on US Open finalist Madison Keys.

PA

More on this topic

Novak Djokovic surpasses Pete Sampras with 15th Grand Slam titleNovak Djokovic surpasses Pete Sampras with 15th Grand Slam title

Naomi Osaka tops rankings after claiming back-to-back grand slam titlesNaomi Osaka tops rankings after claiming back-to-back grand slam titles

Nadal counting on new approach to avenge 2012 loss to DjokovicNadal counting on new approach to avenge 2012 loss to Djokovic

The best moments from day 12 at the Australian OpenThe best moments from day 12 at the Australian Open

More in this Section

Liverpool forward Mo Salah ruled out for EgyptLiverpool forward Mo Salah ruled out for Egypt

Former Ireland striker Kevin Doyle buys half-brother to winning machine AltiorFormer Ireland striker Kevin Doyle buys half-brother to winning machine Altior

17-year-old goalie Bazunu among four players confirmed for Ireland U21 debuts17-year-old goalie Bazunu among four players confirmed for Ireland U21 debuts

Sterling’s bust-up with Gomez like a family row – England boss SouthgateSterling’s bust-up with Gomez like a family row – England boss Southgate


Lifestyle

The Cosmetify Index reveals the cosmetics companies that are generating the most buzz online – and Dubai-based Huda Kattan has the top spot.Huda Beauty tops the 10 ‘most popular’ beauty brands this year

Read the script of Kya deLongchamps’ kitchen-sink drama to set the scene to make an informed choice when selecting this home essentialTake the plunge: Read this checklist before you splash out on your new kitchen sink

SOMETIMES, the journey is more important than the destination. And sometimes, we just want to sit at home eating a bag of jelly beans, while thinking about more jelly beans. Life is only as significant or special as we make it.GameTech: Death Stranding is a divisive, beautiful journey packaged in a cool world

Former Oasis drummer Tony McCarroll tells Richard Purden about the mad times when five Manc-Irish lads became one of the biggest rock bands in the worldNot looking back in anger: Former Oasis drummer looks back at the mad times of one of the biggest rock bands in the world

More From The Irish Examiner