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Sharapova ousts defending champion Wozniacki at Australian Open; Federer, Tsitsipas set to clash

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN
Russia’s Maria Sharapova reacts after a point against Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki during their women’s singles match on Day 5 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2019.
(David Gray / AFP / Getty Images)

Maria Sharapova showed that she’s ready to be a Grand Slam factor once again, eliminating defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open’s fourth round.

Sharapova’s victory Friday was built on aggressive groundstrokes that gave her a 37-10 edge in total winners.

She 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.

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

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Next for Sharapova is a matchup against No. 15 Ash Barty of Australia.

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Roger Federer has played on Rod Laver Arena a hundred times and has six Australian Open crowns in his collection of 20 Grand Slam titles. The 37-year-old tennis statesman has developed a loyal following over 20 consecutive visits for the season-opening major.

After beating 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday on the center court at Melbourne Park, and reaching the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the 63rd time, he raised his racket to the crowd. He’ll next play 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who draws a big, vocal crowd to Melbourne Park.

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“I think I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly. I knew of the threat of Taylor,” said Federer, who has won 97 of his 110 matches overall at Melbourne Park. “I think I had extra focus today.”

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Tsitsipas had a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili earlier on Margaret Court Arena to become the first Greek man to reach the fourth round at multiple majors.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “I feel so comfortable. I feel like playing at home. It’s exciting to have such an atmosphere.”

In the only other completed match by early afternoon, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych beat No. 18-seeded Diego Schwartzman 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Berdych will meet either 2009 champion Rafael Nadal or local favorite Alex de Minaur in the next round.

In the women’s third round, Amanda Anisimova upset Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2.

The 17-year-old is the youngest American to get this far at Melbourne Park since Jennifer Capriati in 1993 — and at any Grand Slam tournament since Serena Williams at the 1998 French Open.

“This is an unreal feeling,” Anisimova said in an on-court interview. “I can’t believe that this is happening right now.”

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She will next face either Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic or Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.

On a rainy afternoon that had the roofs closed atop the three main courts, and play delayed on smaller arenas, the only other women who won early matches were Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Barty, who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-5, 6-1, will next face either Maria Sharapova or Caroline Wozniacki. Pavlyuchenkova, who defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-0, 6-3, will face either Sloan Stephens of the United States or Petra Martic of Croatia.

In the second round of men’s doubles, Finland’s Henri Kontinen and Australia’s John Peers defeated Britain’s Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski 6-3, 6-4; Croatia’s Nikola Mekti and Germany’s Kevin Krawietz defeated France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselinand and Croatia’s Ivan Dodig 6-3, 7-6 (5); and Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer and Portugal’s Joao Sousa defeated Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena and Russia’s Andrey Rublev 7-6 (5), 6-3.

In the second round of women’s doubles, Asia Muhammad and Kaitlyn Christian of the United States defeated Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Lidziya Marozava of Belarus 7-5, 7-5; Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova defeated Australia’s Jessica Moore and Monique Adamczak 6-4, 6-4; Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Nicole Melichar of the United States defeated Nadiia Kichenok of the Ukraine and Yafan Wang of China 6-4, 6-3; and Romania’s Monica Niculescu and Irina Maria Bara defeated Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic and Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-4, 7-6 (8).


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