Sharapova and Kerber in third round blockbuster

Former champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber will meet in a mouth-watering Australian Open third-round clash after hanging tough to record convincing wins in brutal conditions on Thursday.

Back in Melbourne for the first time since testing positive to the banned substance Meldonium two years ago, Sharapova was delighted at only needing two sets to oust Latvian counter-puncher Anastasija Sevastova.

Kerber - who won her first major title at the 2016 Open - proved too good for Croatia's Donna Vekic and won 6-4 6-1.

The pair of of former world No.1s will meet in the round of 32 on Saturday, with reigning French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko the only other woman still alive in the women's draw to have won a grand slam crown.

After serving a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova's much-hyped grand slam comeback was ended by Sevastova in a fourth-round epic at last year's US Open.

The pair met again in Sharapova's next event in Beijing, with the five-time major champion taking the honours on that occasion in a match decided by a third-set tiebreak.

Sharapova and Kerber. Image: Getty

This time around the Russian got the job done 6-1 7-6 (7-4) against the 14th seeded Latvian.

"She never really lets up and she gets a lot of balls back and that's something I've had trouble with in the previous matches against her," said Sharapova, who dominated the winners' count 30-6.

"I was really happy with how aggressive I was.

"I was consistent but I was looking to come forward and I played really well at the net."

Kerber remains unbeaten in 11 matches this year, having bounced back strongly from a disastrous 2017 campaign.

"I really enjoyed being back in Australia," said Kerber.

"It's my 30th birthday and it's amazing how the time is going.

"It's good to win on my birthday and it's always a tough match against Donna."

But the German is wary of Sharapova.

"It will be another tough match," said Kerber.

"We've played each other a lot in the past and I know I will have to play my best tennis again.

"She's played very well in her last two matches , but I'm just looking more about me, just playing my game from the first point and of course just trying to do my best."

Back To Top